Unisha's Story Unisha came into foster care five to six years ago because of neglect and abuse. She has since been in and out of eleven foster homes and eight different high schools. Throughout her time in care, Friends of Wednesday’s Child has remained the one constant in Unisha’s life, providing her with funding for new clothes for school, warm winter coats, birthday presents, and summer camps. This month, Unisha graduated high school with her original class, an accomplishment of which she is extremely proud. Attending eight high schools was nothing short of a challenge, each transfer forcing her to adjust to different curriculum and teaching styles, meet new people, and find new ways to get involved. Unisha’s positive attitude and ambitious spirit led her to graduate on time despite the huge obstacles of instability and lacking a family support system. Without the help of Friends of Wednesday’s Child, however, she would not have the many senior memories that she carries with her. Friends of Wednesday’s Child paid for Unisha‘s cap and gown, graduation announcements, and senior pictures. For her prom, Friends of Wednesday’s Child helped with the ticket, prom dress, shoes and hair. She ended up winning Best Dressed at her Prom. Unisha describes Friends of Wednesday’s Child as her “rescue providers,” because, “when you feel like there is no other way,” which she often felt, “they rescue you.” When asked how being in foster care has affected her, Unisha responds, “I’m thankful for both the good and the bad, because it all helps to build my character, and everyone around me can see it. I have a different outlook on life. Care has made me a loving, caring, and compassionate person.” She’s absolutely right. It is impossible to speak with Unisha and not see her strength of character and compassion. Unisha’s optimistic attitude and determination, however, do not make up for lacking the family support system that most rely on to get through college and transition into independent living. As she leaves foster care and enters the world on her own, Friends of Wednesday’s child will help to ease a few of her burdens by providing her with a scholarship for each semester she is in school. While she attends community college in Houston, this will help her pay for books, food, and living expenses. After junior college, Unisha hopes to move on to TSU or UTA to double major in social work and public speaking and minor in creative writing or journalism. Her goal is to give back directly by becoming a counselor for abuse victims, as well as an inspirational writer and speaker. Unisha is on the road to making a difference in the lives of many, but will continue to need the support of Friends of Wednesday’s Child to make her dreams a reality. Lindsey’s Driver’s Education Unlike most children, who are born into safe and protective homes, Lindsey was forced to endure a long history of sexual abuse before coming into foster care. She is now eighteen years old and looks forward to a future of independence once she leaves foster care. Friends of Wednesday’s Child recently funded Lindsey’s driver’s education. Learning how to drive prior to leaving care will help prepare Lindsey for her transition to independent living. While many teenagers take driver’s education for granted, Lindsey considers receiving her driver’s license an exciting opportunity for which she is extremely grateful. In a thank you letter to Friends of Wednesday’s Child, Lindsey wrote, “This is making a huge impact on my life in so many ways, and I am glad that you are taking time and expenses out of your day and money to care for the things I need.” Because she had a very difficult past over which she had no control, Lindsey’s future means the world to her. Thanks to the support of Friends of Wednesday’s Child, Lindsey was able to acquire the driving skills she needs to confidently and successfully transition to adult independence Kevin’s Martial Arts Training Kevin and his four younger siblings came into care as a result of neglect and their mother’s mental health issues. As the oldest, twelve-year-old Kevin has had to act as a parent figure for his four younger siblings. Kevin is now placed in a home along with his two-year-old brother and one-year-old sister. Though his young life was full of adult responsibility, Kevin is now placed with a family that encourages him to allow the adults in the home to parent and take responsibility for his two younger siblings. Friends of Wednesday’s Child recently began funding martial arts training for Kevin. The training has significantly improved his impulse management, self control, and self esteem issues. According to his CASA supervisor, the regimen martial arts provides also helps lessen his Bi-Polar symptoms. Kevin is an intelligent young boy, who is also interested in reading and art. He is described as a “voracious reader” and enjoys producing pencil drawings of action figures. The martial arts training that Friends of Wednesday’s Child funds greatly improves Kevin’s overall mental health, allowing him to spend more time enjoying his childhood through his artistic and intellectual expression. Tutoring Is Helping Claire Fill the Gaps Claire recently came into foster care due to physical neglect and risk of sexual abuse. Her placement agency worker describes Claire as a happy-go-lucky fourteen-year-old, who likes to have fun, go to church, and ride bikes. Because her mother’s neglect led to a history of truancy and no help with homework, Claire is severely behind in math, grammar, and reading. Friends of Wednesday’s Child pays for ongoing tutoring for Claire, so that she can improve these skills and catch up with her class. Claire is a seventh grader, but she struggles to identify and correctly use basic parts of speech and form full sentences, her reading level is far lower than her classmates, and she has difficulty with multiplication and division. When Claire began tutoring, she could only read a few words at a time. Now she reads confidently, identifies parts of speech, and writes simple sentences. Working one-on-one with a tutor helps Claire fill the gaps in her past learning, so she can better meet seventh grade standards. Claire’s tutor recognizes the vast importance of the learning assistance that Friends of Wednesday’s Child makes possible, noting that Claire has the same ability to learn as other kids, but simply needs a little help. Protective Glasses Enable Jordan to Participate in Gymnastics Jordan was removed from his biological home due to allegations of drug abuse by his mother and other caretakers. His CPS worker describes him as a bubbly seven-year-old, who loves to talk, has a big interest in trains, and enjoys watching Thomas the Tank Engine. Although Jordan likes to play outside and ride his bike like most children his age, he faces more challenges than his peers, suffering from severe strabismus, or crossed eyes. As a result, he must wear glasses and a patch on his right eye that helps strengthen his left and attend speech therapy. Jordan wanted desperately to join his foster siblings in taking gymnastics, but was unable to participate without a special pair of protective glasses to prevent eye injuries and help with his depth perception. Since his foster parents could not afford the glasses, Friends of Wednesday’s Child stepped in and provided the funds. Thanks to Friends of Wednesday’s Child’s support, Jordan is able to participate in gymnastics with his foster siblings, something that brings him great joy, a sense of accomplishment, and a little bit of childhood normalcy amid his many struggles. Sam’s Chair Sam came into foster care almost one year ago after being removed from his home due to neglectful supervision. He is currently five years old and placed in a foster family along with other young children. His foster mother describes Sam as “a bright-eyed, energetic young man that is eager to offer a smile and a giggle to everyone he meets.” Unfortunately, his childhood has been full of challenges that most kids never encounter. Soon after birth, Sam was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, but many of his medical and nourishment needs were ignored in his biological home. As a result, he is developmentally delayed, unable to walk or even crawl, and spends his time either bound to his wheelchair or helplessly on the floor. Friends of Wednesday’s Child recently purchased a Skillbuilders Modular Seating System for Sam. This special chair assists with Sam’s respiratory difficulties, helps to strengthen his motor skills, and is used in his physical, occupational, and speech therapy. The seating system is also equipped with a floor sitter, mobile base, and tray that allow Sam to interact and play with his siblings at eye level. Because this type of seating equipment was strongly recommended by Sam’s doctor but not covered by Star Health, Friends of Wednesday’s Child stepped in to provide the funding for Sam’s chair. According to his placement agency worker, Sam loves his new chair, his siblings enjoy the opportunity to interact with him more, and the chair is improving Sam’s daily care and allowing him to have more social contact. Friends of Wednesday’s Child not only provided Sam with a chair, but more importantly with the life-changing opportunity to improve his health, development, and quality of life.