At the age of 16, DCS performed an evaluation that deemed my home not in my best interest. Little did I know how much the one-hour meeting that day would completely change the course of my life.

Being ripped from everything I had known, healthy or not, and tossed into state custody was the last thing I thought I would have to overcome after having to bear the sexual abuse, emotional trauma, and overall neglect I had already experienced. 

I went through multiple placements before I made it to the group home where I met caring staff. My hesitancy to allow them to help me never swayed them from trying. They stood by while I made my way through the stages of grief for what I felt I had lost. I was connected to services such as therapy, credit recovery schooling, and reconnected me to my faith.

With access to all this support I thrived. I made major breakthroughs about my trauma with the first therapist I had ever trusted, graduated high school at the top of my class, and rededicated my life to Christ.

But as my 18th birthday approached, I found myself unprepared for being on my own. One day you have all these resources and people who say they care, and then as quickly as your state funding disappears, so do they.

Cece’s Hope Center offered me that security that most girls with my background don’t get. I knew that these were my people when even though I had nothing to give them in return, they still dedicated time and resources to ensuring that so long as I was willing to fight my fight, I would not have to do it alone. And that’s exactly what they did: through every eviction, every job, every trigger, every curve ball life had to throw at me, they were there.

I found courage in my places of weakness and strength in vulnerability. I can now say that at the age of 23, I am doing the best I have ever been. I live in my own apartment (bedroom furnished by Cece’s Hope Center), I work full time, have my own reliable vehicle, and have maintained all of this for over a year now.

While I have graduated from Cece’s service program, CeCe’s Hope Center will always have a place in my heart.