First it started with his dad. Then his mom. His mother started disappearing for days and weeks at a time when David was around 11, leaving him alone with just his pet hamster to keep him company. Sometime over the next year, his hamster disappeared, too, and then David was completely alone. With no one to buy food, send him to school, do laundry or love him, David's life was lonely, confusing and dangerous.
At age 12, David was finally removed from his home. This is when his journey truly began. He would live in three foster homes before arriving to Whaley Children's Center. When the caring staff of Whaley greeted him as he walked through our front doors, he closed his eyes and put his head down in grief. He was exhausted. The type of isolation that David experienced was devastating to his development; however, through 19 months of extensive clinical treatment combined with a safe environment and love given by our family of staff and volunteers, David made great strides.
Today, David holds his head up high - laughing, playing and excelling at school. The one question he asked our staff recently was whether he could have a hamster of his very own, a piece of comfort he remembers from before his life was transformed. It was just a few months of living at Whaley before David realized that love lives here at Whaley Children's Center.
Gregory is a sweet, kind and loving child. Around the Center, he is known as a child who is welcoming to all new children and a constant help to all staff. Gregory is a prime example of the mantra repeated to all our children on a daily basis: Your past does not need to define your future.
As a very young child, Gregory lived in a very unstable and dangerous home. His parents were extremely violent and one day, the violence got completely out of control. Gregory witnessed his father murder his mother right in front of him. He was immediately removed from the home after this event and placed at Whaley, and, for the first few months of his stay at our Center, he continuously showed signs of complete and utter shock.
However, Gregory has worked hard alongside his therapist and the other staff and volunteers at Whaley to heal and overcome the extreme trauma he had witnessed as such a young child. He is an absolutely wonderful young boy who is not only kind and funny, but also a great athlete! This year he is going out for his middle school football team. When asked what position he wants to play, he responded, "All of them!"
As a very little girl, Caitlin wasn't given much of a chance at success. Entering the foster care system at the age of two, she felt neglected and alone her whole life. By the age of 15, she had been to 14 different foster homes. Each foster family tried to care for Caitlin, but eventually, they would move her on to another home when her stubborn personality became too difficult to handle.
When she arrived at Whaley, Caitlin believed this was just another temporary stay. She assumed the staff at Whaley would give up on her just as all the other families had. However, our staff provided her with love and attention. They stayed by her side during the difficult times and helped her work through her feelings and emotions. A hard-headed girl was beginning to become and happy and polite young lady.
After being at Whaley for a little over 2 years, Caitlin is quickly approaching high school graduation; however, Caitlin doesn't have too much to worry about when it comes to her future plans. She has recently been accepted into a prestigious university where she plans to study engineering. Caitlin is a true testament to the life changing abilities of the residential and clinical staff at out Center. They are truly transforming lives and creating futures!
Michael arrived at Whaley Children's Center when he was only five years old. After previously being removed from his mother's care, Michael was removed from his alcoholic father's care after being found wandering around in a snow storm and asking strangers for food because he was hungry.
Michael was extremely scared and unable to trust when he first arrived at our Center. His inability to trust continued to grow after two unsuccessful adoption attempts in two years. Michael was beginning to think no one could ever love him the way he needed to be loved.
However, the staff at Whaley Children's Center worked with Michael to help him understand he was worth the love and care he would one day receive from a very special family. Our youth specialists helped him to feel proud and look forward to the future while setting boundaries for him to be successful learning and growing.
Recently, Michael was adopted by, as he would say, a "maybe" family. They are living happily together and working together to help Michael stay the smiling, happy boy we always knew he could be.
Whaley Children’s Center has become the home Abigail has always dreamed of. Just one year ago, 13 year old Abby was acting as a caregiver for her seven other brothers and sisters. Often having to stay home from school in order to care for her younger siblings, Abby also tried to shield her brother and sisters from the substance abuse, domestic violence, physical abuse and neglect brought upon them by their mother and father.
After more than 50 Child Protective Services complaints, Abby and her brothers and sisters were found in their home with no food, no water and no working facilities. They were taken away from their home, but also separated from each other, in order to find emergency shelter.
Abby arrived at Whaley shortly after leaving her parents’ home, and was extremely quiet and unsure of what type of home she could have here. Worrying about and yearning to see her brothers and sisters daily, Abby seemed to be constantly depressed. However, within a month, six of her seven brothers and sisters also found a home at Whaley Children’s Center. Together they have finally found the safety, love and hope they had been searching for.
Since being reunited at the Center, Abby and her brothers and sisters have begun to grow, and work through their hardships and understand that their past does not need to define their future. Our staff, volunteers and donors are transforming lives and creating futures for Abby, her family and dozens of other children each and every year.