Hearts of Yolo: Monique Sraws

Thursday, Oct 5, 2017

Monique Straws and her twin sister, Sharique were born addicted to heroin and cocaine. Through the years, she and her sister were placed in several different foster homes, sometimes together, but most often apart. In fact, they were only placed together twice before the age of ten, and were not placed together after that. “My childhood memories centered around a lot of loneliness and independence, but independence far too young. In fact, I was told I tried to kill myself at age five, so one of my placements was in a mental institution. Unfortunately I was never adopted, though I do remember it being pursued at various points throughout my foster care journey.”

When Monique was nine years old, Rosa, her CASA volunteer, entered her life. Rosa came to many school activities and as Monique got older, she helped her apply to colleges, scholarships, and to get financial aid. She even helped her move to Los Angeles to attend college. “When Rosa came into my life, I wasn’t as lonely. As strange as it sounds to some, it was relieving to finally have a person to call my own. Rosa came every week to visit me. When my sister’s CASA volunteer went to law school, Rosa took on her case too, even though it was hours away. She would devote a whole day to visiting me and taking me to see my sister. Looking back, it was just incredible what she did for us.”

When Monique was in college in Los Angeles, her life took a few turns, which ultimately brought her back to the Sacramento region. “Through a series of choices I became homeless and pregnant and as she usually does, Rosa called me at just the right time. She immediately started researching ways she could help me and found a home for homeless women who are pregnant in Elk Grove. Then, she came down and helped me move across the state.”

Monique’s son is now nine years old and Rosa buys him new socks and underwear each year. “That’s just her thing that she does.” Rosa was also there at the right time when Monique’s health took a turn. “I was feeling tired. I am a single mom, work full time and go to school part time, so I am always tired, but this was different. Rosa said she was worried and encouraged me to see a doctor. It turns out that I have kidney failure and am now on dialysis four days a week. Rosa, again, was instrumental in helping me find resources and navigate the medical system.”

Despite these setbacks, Monique is still determined. “I’ve decided to pursue social work as a career and am continuing my schooling for that. I also want to buy a house someday for my son and I. When I can make a down payment and have a mortgage of my own, I’ll know I’ve really made it.”

In the meantime, she enjoys her friendship with Rosa and the daily rewards she gets from her son. “Each night he asks for kisses and I know that must mean I am doing alright by him. It melts my heart every time.”

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