Hearts of Yolo: Dorothy

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Dorothy and KarenDorothy and her brother’s life changed drastically when her father got sick. “My father couldn’t take care of us anymore and my mother lived across the country, unable to take custody.” Dorothy is now 18, but has been in foster care for several years. When she was first placed into foster care, her own interests were the furthest thing from her mind. “I promised my little brother that we would always be together and that I would always take care of him. I wasn’t even thinking about my own well-being. I just wanted to be there for him. It felt like I was all he had.”

A few months later, Dorothy was assigned a CASA volunteer. “From day one, Karen looked out for me and supported me. She worked to earn my trust and emphasized that when we were together, it was all about what my needs, goals, and dreams were and how she could help me get there. Our visits were really the only times that I wasn’t focused on my brother.”

As time went on, Dorothy realized that her time with Karen was shaping her future in ways she didn’t expect. Through self-reflection encouraged by Karen, she learned that she wanted to attend college and study abroad, be an entrepreneur, and eventually adopt children out of foster care someday. She acknowledges that it could have been different, “I think I would have graduated eventually, but it may have taken a year or year-and-a-half longer because my focus was directed on my brother and not myself.”

Dorothy also reflects on when her father passed away. “When my father passed away from his illness, it was a really tough time for me. I truly felt alone, except that I had Karen assuring me that she would always be there supporting for me. She also encouraged me to express myself through art, some of which is still hanging on the walls at Yolo County CASA’s office. Karen was to me what I was trying to be for my brother, and I felt so relieved to have someone in my corner during a time when I felt incredibly lonely.”

In addition to the support and advocacy that Karen provided for Dorothy, they also formed a deep friendship. “When Karen and I were first forming our relationship, she was constantly thinking of ways to get to know me better and build trust. We quickly discovered that we both liked music, specifically the Beach Boys. We used to play it in her convertible and go ‘cruising’ with the top down. It felt so special and those times will always be cherished childhood memories.”

Dorothy is now registering for college and planning for the future. She reflects, “It all feels so new and strange. I’ve been told that good things do happen and should happen most of the time, but it is still hard for me to believe.”

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