Before coming to Cookson Hills, I was not the best person and I knew I could be better. When my mom first told me about going, I felt like I was just being sent away again because she didn’t love me or that my family didn’t want me anymore. While on my tour, I thought everything at Cookson Hills was horrible. After a phone call with my older brother, I finally succumbed to the idea of going to a place that everyone else thought could help me. When I actually got to Cookson Hills, I realized things weren’t so bad and that the people here were really welcoming. Once I met my houseparents, the Goffs, I really liked them. I was still scared because it reminded me of my childhood. Growing up I was moved from an orphanage and then later to different foster homes. It was like living that part of my life again, and I didn’t want to do it. To my surprise, Cookson Hills was the total opposite of anything I had ever experienced before. My whole perspective on how I was living my life changed during my first thirty days.
In my first month at Cookson Hills, I decided to sing in the talent show. I also joined the homecoming basketball activities because of my love for basketball. I was really embarrassed and scared but I made some new friends who were really nice to me. My second week at Cookson Hills I started going to Bible study. It was definitely a major change, but I adjusted well. I know that everyone adjusts at a different pace. For me, I got used to things quickly and easily figured out the routine at home and at school. I think getting involved in activities right away helped that adjustment.
It’s been almost three months since I’ve been here at Cookson Hills and I’m proud to call it my home. I have learned so much about relationships, God, family, and most of all…I have learned things about myself that I didn’t know I was capable of. My relationships are complicated because I’m still trying to figure out who I can and can’t trust in life. I’ve realized not everyone is going to like me and I’m not always going to be friends with everyone. As far as my faith, at Cookson Hills, God is number one for me. He is teaching me how to be a better version of myself every single day. I am learning to go to Him when I’m in need. I’m learning to believe in Him even when life is not going according to how I want it to go and just the thought of Him makes everything better.
My experience here at Cookson Hills has been a total blessing. I have already learned a lot of things about myself through trying new things. For example, I am in drama and I didn’t think I was a good actress (plus I have stage fright sometimes). I have developed a bravery in myself–I’m not afraid to sing in front of people anymore after participating in the talent show. I feel like I was freed from what was holding me back from showing the world the real me. I’ve also learned how to keep my patience with my siblings in my house. I haven’t been here that long but I feel like a better person than when I left home. I have great houseparents and they are my biggest cheerleaders and supporters. I also have friends that keep me in check. Yes, there are hard and frustrating days for all of us, but I’ve learned that this is what a real family does. We’re there for each other no matter the situation, and we help each other discover what’s inside of us. I’m really glad that I came to Cookson Hills because all my life I’ve always been told to find my true self and I feel like I can finally do that. That has been a huge breakthrough for me.