Like many foster children, Ciara was a troubled youth. She had a hard time making healthy relationships, was failing in school and had a generally negative outlook on life. That’s when one of Mesa United Way’s partner agencies, Aid to Adoption of Special Kids, stepped in and assigned one of its mentors, Alicia, to help Ciara navigate the twisting path of adolescence. Ciara wasn’t thrilled, to put it mildly. When Alicia set up meetings and outings, Ciara would cancel or be a no-show.
But Alicia persisted. When they did meet, Ciara was guarded, unable or unwilling to share what was on her mind. She had been disappointed and betrayed so many times in the past that she didn’t know if she could trust Alicia. But Ciara began keeping their appointments. They would go out to lunch; go to Tempe Arts Festival; bake cupcakes at the Alicia’s home; go to a movie. Ciara was learning that someone DID care about her, no matter her resistance. And by last spring, Alicia reported to her supervisor that “She hasn’t cancelled or re‐scheduled, so to me that’s an improvement!”
Also during this time, Alicia discussed with Ciara the need to focus on the challenge of juggling school (which she had dropped) with having a job, especially since she would be aging out of foster care soon. Alicia also helped Ciara view several apartment complexes, and look into community colleges. In August, they talked through Ciara’s relationship issue with her boyfriend. Alicia’s August report connected Ciara’s “lack of self‐esteem (with) a lack of healthy past relationships.”