Archive for the ‘STORIES From Care Givers of Former Foster Children’ category

Teenagers Need Adoption Too – 25 to 30 Foster Homes

July 2, 2008

STORIES FROM CARE GIVERS OF HOMELESS FORMER FOSTER CHILDREN:

Meet Gwendolyn Ross – Mama Gwen – Career Development Specialist – Covenant House New Jersey – Crisis Center

The teenagers need to be adopted to.

“I have seen scars on their body. They’re just chopped, chopped.”

When Mama Gwen tells you stories about her students, you have no choice but to site and listen intently. Her emotions boil over. Tears well up in her eyes. She’s feels their pain and you can’t help but feel it yourself.

“When you hear young people tell you I’ve been in 25, 30 different foster homes Mama Gwen, nobody really cares about me and this is why I’m homeless today.

Because if they cared, even if my grandmother would have cared, or my auntie or uncle but no, they don’t care so they’re homeless. Once they become a teenager seeing like they want the little children. They won’t want a full grown teenager.. They feel like they’re already set in their ways,” Mama Gwen says as she breaks down in tears.

“They want to be adopted as well and they’re labeled. And that’s why you find them before they get here (Covenant House), they’re in the street, they’re sleeping at the train station, they’re sleeping under the train station. They’re sleeping wherever they possibly can because there is nobody, once they’re 18 and it’s ok, you’re case is closed, where do I go from there?

Once they turn 18 years old they don’t even want to hear the word DYFS, they don’t want to be bothered no more. They can only think about what they’ve been through with the state. They have an attitude, they’re angry, they’re hurt and when you say things to them, well DYFS can do this for you now, please Mama Gwen, I don’t wanna hear nothing about DYFS. That is the bottom line. They have to go through anger management. They have to go through all different types of skills to bring them back as a whole person. They’ve just been chopped, chopped. Literally. I have seen students shown me scars on their body.

And I’m thinking to myself, well if you’re with DYFS, why didn’t somebody do something about this? Because, Mama Gwen, (the students tell her) they don’t care and that’s the bottom line. There has to be a change.
If you can’t give them type of foundation, that type of love, don’t take it for the money because in the long run you’re hurting the children.” It’s takes only an instant for the phone to ring and Mama’s back on focus. “He didn’t show up for his interview? Well don’t worry, I’m back and he’s show up this time.” Mama looks up, “Gottta stay on top of these kids all the time.”

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Mama Gwen Loves All The Homeless Children

July 2, 2008

STORIES FROM CARE GIVERS OF HOMELESS FORMER FOSTER CHILDREN:

Meet Gwendolyn Ross – Mama Gwen – Career Development Specialist – Covenant House New Jersey – Crisis Center

Everyone loves Mama Gwen. Former foster children, runaways, drug addicts, homeless kids, case workers, office staff, it doesn’t matter who you are, everyone loves Mama Gwen.

“Since I’ve been here,  I’ve been here eight years, and the students gave me a new name. They call me Mama Gwen.

I’ve asked some of them (homeless kids taken in at Covenant House) why do you wanna call me Mama Gwen?”

The students are quick to answer.

“Mama Gwen, you can take the place of a mother to us.

A lot of people never had a mother figure in their life and people see you as
that person. I’ve grown to know you and have major respect for you. You treat me just as my mother would treat me, with respect. I honor you. Like I really do bow down to you. You are Mama Gwen, you deserve that name.

You show love to everybody,” one of the girls said.

Mama Gwen greets everyone she passes by but make no mistake about it, Mama Gwen’s no push over. Tell Mama Gwen the truth and all will be good. Lie to Mama Gwen and she’ll call you into line. She’s there to help the kids, help them find employment, follow up when they don’t show up for work, teach them how to dress for an interview, build their self respect and that’s only the beginning of what Mama Gwen does for these kids.

“Yes we’re here to teach job readiness skills but most important are life skills, how you can survive out there. Social skills, how you can take directives from your employer because sometimes we’re so angry inside we don’t even want to hear the employer tell us ok, right now you’re not busy so we need you to go over there and sweep.” She belts out a big, “SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP, what you talking about sweep? I didn’t get hired to sweep no floors!”, mimicking the kids.

“I really wanted a lot of kids but I only had one. But I didn’t know that there was a plan that I would have 45. So I have a lot of kids in this world and we are all family. That’s how we work together. Family have to reach out to one another and help each other grow and develop. Don’t you think you can’t teach me,” she says lovingly.

Care Givers, Covenant House – Miss Janette “Trash Cans Are For Trash”

June 25, 2008

STORIES FROM CARE GIVERS OF HOMELESS FORMER FOSTER CHILDREN:

Meet Janette Scrozzo, Outreach Liaison, Covenant House New Jersey – Crisis Center

Covenant House New Jersey Outreach Liaison Janette Scrozzo

“We house 45 young people from the ages of 18-22. Our kids come through our door, a lot of them aged out DYFS kids, they come from sexually abused and physically abused homes situations. Many of our kids are gang affiliated.”

“They come to us because they have no place else to go so our doors are open 24/7.”

“We provide them with the immediacy, food, shelter, clothing.”

As Janette walks through the halls of Covenant House’s Crisis Center she greets the kids with the love of a mother giving them hugs and encouragement but also dispensing discipline, “No do-rags inside. You know the rules. Pull your pants up, respect yourself.” She turns to me, “We treat them with respect but they have to learn to respect themselves as well. Only then will others show them respect.”

I know they go back to doing what they want when I walk away but they have to learn. “Get off the garbage can. Garbage cans are for garbage. You’re not garbage. Get off the garbage can.”