Before I came to Cookson Hills, I didn’t care about anything or anybody. I had been through some rough things during my childhood; always moving back and forth between my mom and dad and in and out of foster care. My family and I didn’t really get along, I skipped school for almost a year, I got into drugs, and I didn’t believe in God. I didn’t really believe in anything.
Now, I’ve been at Cookson Hills for two years and my perspective has definitely changed. The overall environment here is pretty awesome. We have nice houses to live in, but more importantly, we are a family. We actually treat each other like family. My houseparents care about me and they want what’s best for me. I first realized this when my houseparents kept encouraging me to open up. They wanted to be close to me like an actual family, with a real relationship and real conversation. This can put me out of my comfort zone at times, but it’s a good thing to learn.
Secondly, the education here is great. I can accomplish things that I didn’t think were possible! As soon as I started with my GED studies, I realized that I have to make something out of my life. I decided to stay caught up in school and to stay eligible. When my first report card came out, I felt like I could accomplish anything! Instead of my normal F’s, I was getting mostly A’s and B’s! After that report card, I put all of my efforts into finishing this school year out and setting goals to pass my GED test.
Along with my studies, I’ve also been learning job skills through working in our dining hall. I’ve learned that it’s important to work hard if you want to keep your job. Working hard isn’t always easy but that doesn’t mean you give up and just leave. In the future, I hope to use my new skills to get a job outside of Cookson Hills.
The counseling here at Cookson Hills has really helped me grow into the person I am today. In the past two years, I’ve learned how to handle my anger towards people, how to set my mind to succeed and keep my head up. I’ve realized that I have people around me that truly care about me. But most importantly, I’ve grown in my relationship with God and I’m getting a better understanding of the world around me.
I am grateful that I had the chance to come to Cookson Hills. If I didn’t come here, I would still be skipping school and doing drugs. But now, I haven’t missed a day of school, I am three years clean, and my family and I are reunited. I’ve experienced good and bad things in my life, and I choose to stay with the good.