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Real LifeMeet Jacke, a former foster youth.
For 13 years, my life had been chaotic. There were days when the only thing I ate was school lunch. And drugs were constantly around our home. That was just normal for me. I didn't know anything different.
In seventh grade, I met my best friend Heather Ricketts. When I went to her house, I realized that this was what a stable family was supposed to look like. They were the closest thing to a normal, stable family I had.
One day, when I went to school, my mom told me to get off the bus at my aunt's house after school instead of coming home. Maybe she knew what was about to happen. When I got off the school bus that afternoon, I found DFCS (the Division of Family and Children Services) waiting for me on the front steps. My mom had been arrested for drug possession. That was the day I went into foster care.
I went to one foster home, and then a few days later I moved to a second home. That was when I met my CASA volunteer, Lisa. In our first meeting, I told her that I didn't understand why I couldn't just stay with Heather's family. She said to me, "I don't think that's how it works, but I'll look into it." And she did.
Lisa did everything she could to make it possible for me to go home with the Ricketts. Lisa recommended in her court report that I should be placed with the Ricketts, and everybody signed off on the plan.
Lisa changed my life. The difference between Lisa and everyone else in the system was that Lisa was really interested in who I was. They all did their jobs, but nobody else tried to get to know me as a person. Lisa wanted to connect with me.
Jacke currently attends Gainesville State.