Savannah’s life growing up was not typical of most children, but her experiences have taught this now 18-year-old how to overcome life’s challenges with grace and optimism.
One of nine children, Savannah grew up familiar with Child Protective Services (CPS), which has been involved in her life since she was 3 years old. Her father was inattentive and struggled with substance abuse, leading to a very unstable home life for her and her siblings.
“I was taken away from my dad often and my mom was never in my life,” said Savannah.
They often did not have food in the house, and Savannah suffered from physical and emotional abuse. She was placed with other family members frequently, though this was not always a good alternative.
As a sophomore in high school, Savannah was placed in the foster care system. Not long after that, she learned of BCFS Health and Human Services- Kerrville from a friend. When she arrived at BCFS-Kerrville, she met with Case Manager Kathy Rice, and immediately felt welcomed by the place she had come for assistance.
“Ms. Kathy was like the parent I never had,” recalled Savannah.
Ms. Rice met with Savannah often and enrolled her in Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) classes where Savannah began to learn many new things. She was taught how to open a checking and savings account, manage her finances and stick to a budget. The bright-eyed young lady also learned how to apply and interview for a job, proper workplace etiquette, and even how to shop for healthy meals.
As is the case with most foster youth in Texas, Savannah aged out of the foster care system when she turned 18. This left her without stable living arrangements and uncertain about her future.
Unsure who else she could turn to, Savannah confided in Ms. Rice about her need for safe and secure housing. She disclosed that she hadn’t felt safe in a home for years, and she longed to feel peace and security.
At the time, BCFS-Kerrville had just completed renovations to apartments at Our House, a transitional living program that provides housing and wraparound support to youth struggling with homelessness. Savannah was overwhelmed with gratitude when she was accepted into the program.
She moved into her new apartment, giddy with excitement and enjoying a long overdue sense of relief. For the first time in her life, she could lay her head down at night and feel safe.
“I love the furnishings and having my own place,” she said. “Having the security of stable housing has helped me finish high school, work and prepare for my future.”
Only a year and a half after moving in to Our House, Savannah’s life looks quite different. BCFS-Kerrville helped her find a job, and through hard work she is now a shift manager at a local restaurant. She is also putting the other skills she has learned to practical use. She has been diligently putting away part of her paycheck, and her savings account is growing.
Savannah recently began classes at Northwest Vista College in San Antonio, Texas, and is excited about continuing her education in the health care industry.
“I’m the first one in my family to enroll in college, and I’m proud of that accomplishment!”
Savannah’s case manager, Kathy, called it a blessing to be Savannah’s “guide and friend.”
“Today, so many young people don’t have a stable and responsible adult in their lives – to help them with the simple things, like driving them to college orientation, or more complicated things like navigating Medicaid and insurance requirements,” said Kathy.
“I am so excited to see how Savannah grows with each new life experience. BCFS-Kerrville and I will be there to guide her every step of the way!”
Featured in the 2016 annual BCFS together magazine