“When I showed up with a sack full of gifts, Mom was overwhelmed with joy,” Tina said. “Then when I told her there was more in my car, she buckled at the knees. She was so overcome by the spirit of generosity she felt from our donors, and she said she was eternally grateful.”
At just 14 years old, she is the oldest of six. Her mom is her best friend. She is an active cheerleader, and she works hard to maintain good grades. Dominica’s popularity at school makes for a mixed-bag of friendships that prove fun yet often trying. One of her best friends was going through a rough time financially, and although Dominca’s family was also struggling, Dominica always offered anything she could from the money her mom would occasionally give her for lunch or other necessities.
Everything about Dominca’s life was perfectly normal. Then her dad left. Dominca immediately stepped in to help her mom who was busy working nights. Dominca cooked dinners, cleaned the house, and bathed her younger siblings, making sure her mom could concentrate on staying at work. Dominca’s grades began to fall, and soon she fell victim to poor choices and peer-pressures that landed her in Juvenile Drug Court. A supervised treatment program, Juvenile Drug Court provides services to people between the ages of 10 and 17 who have no previous record or gang affiliations and have been charged with a non-violent drug possession offense.
As part of the wraparound service, Dominca was referred to Tina, a counselor at Lena Pope. Providing assessments, in-home counseling, and family support services, Lena Pope plays a leading role in the long-term success of youth in Juvenile Drug Court.
“Dominca is tough with a strong work ethic,” Tina said. “She always attended meetings, and her mom stood by her side. Her mom had her own feelings of abandonment and worked with a Lena Pope counselor of her own to help her work through her depression. They are a strong family that stood by each other during a very difficult time.”
As the holidays approached, Tina reached out to Lena Pope’s donors for help to ensure Dominca’s family could have a beautiful holiday with necessities and presents for all the children. As always, Lena Pope’s generous donors provided, and Tina made arrangements to have the bags and bundles of holiday cheer delivered to the family.
“When I showed up with a sack full of gifts, Mom was overwhelmed with joy,” Tina said. “Then when I told her there was more in my car, she buckled at the knees. She was so overcome by the spirit of generosity she felt from our donors, and she said she was eternally grateful. The entire family was in joyful, thankful tears.”
Unbeknownst to her family, Dominca had been saving the money her mom gave her with the intention of buying holiday presents for her siblings. Instead, Dominca used the money she had saved and bought gifts for her friend’s family so they too could have a wonderful holiday.
Dominca finished all of the courses and classes necessary for her to complete the Family Drug Court program –– months ahead of schedule.
“This is my first year at Lena Pope, and I am truly inspired by our clients and our donors,” Tina said.