Hello. My name is Larissa and my sisters and brother and I all had Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs). Holly was my CASA, but I just call her my friend.
Honestly, I do not know where I would be if Holly had not become part of my life.
When I was a freshman in high school, my four younger siblings and I were removed from my mother because of her problems with drug addiction. This was a really difficult time for me. I got into trouble; I didn’t go to school; I didn’t like the person I was becoming.
When I met Holly, I wasn’t sure what to expect. At first, I feared that she was just another person coming into my life, learning my story, gaining my trust and that she would just walk out like many others had. Holly was persistent. Despite me giving her a hard time and having a negative attitude, Holly didn’t give up on me.
Holly worked with my teachers, my family and other adults that cared about me to help me create some goals and make more positive decisions. She encouraged me to try new things and helped me realize that I can make a bright future for myself.
During one of our visits, Holly suggested I go to a Girl Scout leadership camp for girls struggling in high school. I didn’t want to go because I didn’t know anyone, but Holly convinced me to give it a try. I had such an amazing time that I went back for a second year and became a Girl Scouts Thrive Leader. Because Holly pushed me to get involved in Girl Scouts, I still continue with it to this day.
Holly helped me understand that education is the key to a better life. I started going to school again and passing all my classes. At Holly’s suggestion, I took summer school classes to make up my missing credits. I also started taking better care of myself, being helpful with my family and trying to set a good example for my little brother and sisters.
Eventually, my siblings and I were returned to my mother’s care after she worked very hard to turn her life around. Being back with my mom is the best feeling in the world and I am so proud of her.
The time I spent in foster care was the roughest time in my life, but Holly helped me get through it. She kept me focused, helped me set goals and keep them.
Now, when I look back on the bad times, I am glad they happened; it made my family realize how important it is to be together.
Today, I am happy with the person I’ve become. I graduated from high school a semester early. I have already started courses at San Jose City College and I am working two part time jobs to work my way through school.
To this day, Holly is a very important person in my life and one of my biggest role models. I will never forget how much she helped me and my family get through the hard times and inspired me to become the person I am today.
Every kid in foster care needs a Holly – a person they can trust and rely on – a person who is unconditional in their support. A person who inspires us to be the people we can be.