Pierre Hemphill came from a rough neighborhood and grew up not trusting adults. When he landed in foster care after his parents could no longer care for him, he bounced from foster home to foster home.
At age 10, Pierre met Harvey Fox and Mike Bowman, two friends who became his CASA mentors, and his life changed.
“Harvey and Mike made sure I didn’t become another sad statistic and I’m really grateful for that,” said Pierre, now age 22. Pierre made his comments while speaking to foster youth and their CASAs at Child Advocates’ Annual Teen Event in June. Pierre and his former CASA Mike Bowman posed for a few photos at the Teen Event, which honors approximately 40 seniors who are either completing their high school requirements in June or are on-track to do so within the year. All youth in attendance receive laptop or notebook computers and 10 receive $1,000 scholarships to support their transition to post-secondary education. The scholarship recipients are nominated by their CASAs and selected by Child Advocates’ staff based on a variety of factors including GPA, the degree of adversity the youth has overcome, and the amount of effort the youth put forth in order to succeed.
Let Your CASA Guide You Toward A Better Future
“Trust the people who are here for you. They want to help you. Let them,” Pierre told the group of teens.
“These people are volunteering their time to spend time with you and offer you an additional support system. Later on in life you’ll look back and realize how fortunate you were to have had a CASA.”
Pierre pointed out that CASAs help children and teens navigate a lot of things in life that kids outside the foster care system often take for granted.
“CASAs can help you learn how to apply for a job and how to have a conversation with an adult. When you grow up in foster care, you don’t have a lot of role models like other kids,” Pierre explained.
“All of you here with your CASA tonight, I urge you to continue to include your CASA in your support system. Until you’re out on your own, it’s hard to understand how important it is to have people you can talk with and depend on.”
Pierre also spoke about the importance of getting a good education. While he managed to land temp jobs at several high tech companies without a college degree, his ability to move up within a company was severely limited. He’s now attending college and working toward his BA degree in Business Administration while holding down a job. “It’s not easy, but it’s what I know I need to do to create a better future for myself.