Posted by Heather Sewell
on February 09, 2017 / Posted in Advocacy
, Life Coaching
Tamara Vest grew up in central Kentucky, and when she turned nine her father, sole care giver, passed away. She lived with her half-brother and his wife for six years through a state kinship placement. “The relationship was rocky,” Tamara said.
After turning sixteen, she was taken to a homeless shelter for children in Lexington. Tamara’s social worker helped her through the abrupt transition from family to foster care during her tumultuous teenage years. The social worker placed her into a family who lived in her same school district. She stayed committed to choir and cheerleading through the transition and kept her grades up Encouraged by her teachers and driven to pursue a college degree and career, Tamara participated in a dual-credit program offered by her high school.
When Tamara had the opportunity, she moved from her foster home into an independent living facility for foster youth ages 16-21. There, she had a roommate, regular supervision, and assistance from the staff. The center provided transportation to school, work and doctor’s appointments. Over time, and with good behavior, she was given more independence. “It taught me to be on my own,” she said. At 19, Tamara moved out of independent living and into her own apartment. She enrolled in a community and technical college and began taking courses for a degree in political science. She has since transitioned and focuses on getting her CNA certifications to enroll in a local nursing program.
OCA equips Christians to walk alongside youth. Tamara receives care packs from local Christian families through the OCA Life Coaching ministry. Providing care packs to foster alumni in college is one of the many ways you can make a positive impact on our community. Likewise, training to become a life coach connects you into the lives of teens living these types of transitions. Tamara shared more with OCA about the positive influences in her life that helped her make wise choices through her teen years and into adulthood.Despite encouragement from the independent living staff, Tamara chose to not recommit to the state. Uniquely, Tamara had access to financial benefits from a trust that had accumulated for nearly a decade since her father’s passing. In court, just before she aged out, Tamara presented her wishes to the judge, proved she had a job, a place to live, and a plan for her future.
At 18, Tamara tried to connect with her birth mother. “The relationship has been up and down over the past couple years, but I am taking it day by day,” Tamara said. Going through life with no control over who cared for her or who checked in with her made her life feel unpredictable. “I felt as though my life wasn’t in anyone’s hands, I was alone,” she shared.
Self-sufficient and academically ambitious, Tamara says that foster care helped her find herself and understand how strong she was. It gave her more independence and the ability to handle struggles better.
If you would like to be equipped and connected to a teen or young adult with a foster care journey, let us know. OCA provides training and one on one matches to help you engage and encourage the fatherless in Kentucky and southern Indiana.