Many may wonder "who is a typical youth at HHYS?" Collectively, they are no different than any other youth… they have their hopes, dreams, strengths, and weaknesses just like anyone else. They do have in common the experience of a trauma event that was so impacting that it continues to affect them today in the choices they make, the relationships they form, or how they manage their emotions. Tessa is one youth HHYS served. Her story follows:
I was placed at Hermitage House when I was 12 after suffering abuse by my parents and foster family. Although there for a short time, Hermitage House had a huge impact on my life from that point on. That was a trying time in my life with a lot going on, but it was safe. I remember dressing up in a Halloween costume and having a party (my first time because we didn't celebrate Halloween at my foster home), having a blast, and eating lots of candy!!!!! My biggest challenge when I was a teenager was finding out the person I wanted to become, listening to the right people, and recognizing that they cared about me enough to show me a little tough love (not any different than any other teenager!).
There was a time when I wasn't dealing well with some issues and I was holding everything inside instead of talking about them. I started hurting myself and was even hospitalized at Hamot for a short period of time. I definitely learned through this that one of the most important things in life is to have someone who will listen to you. What kept me moving forward and motivated during this time in my life was my foster family who showed me that tough love when I needed (and yes I rebelled against it at the time), my psychiatrist who helped me deal with the different types of abuse I endured, and my Independent Living (IL) Coordinator from Hermitage House who was an awesome listener and so much more. My IL Coordinator was who I looked up to and wanted to be just like when I grew up.
I am proud of my life today! I have been married to my loving husband for 14 years and we have created two handsome boys who will be raised to the best of our abilities. My biggest challenge is becoming the parent I have always wanted to be and it is a challenge I willingly conquer every day. They are my life and I cherish the time I spend with them. We are raising them with love, respect, discipline, manners, and so much more! I find I have become a great listener-anything my kids want to talk about I listen to because something small to me might be big to them; I know from experience if it's not listened to and dealt with, it will lead to bigger problems. Lastly and most importantly to me is love- I was never really told that I was loved, so every chance I get, I tell and show my kids I love them each and every day!