The Story of a Survivor of the System

Facing Hunger in Manhattan, Kansas

My real parents were abusive, so when I was nine-months -old I was sent to foster care. We were there because my five-year-old sister was in a body cast because my dad tried to take a metal rod through her. During that time I was going in and out of foster care. I’ve had people touch me in inappropriate ways. Then I finally got a family. They adopted me and then stuff happened between my adopted dad where I had to put him in jail; fourteen and pregnant with his child. Abortion too.

At seventeen I was doing inappropriate things. I was stealing. I was going out, acting crazy. I went to rehab and that was when my mom got custody of me. When I turned eighteen I was just put on the streets. I got into more trouble and spent up to three years in county jail in Olathe. Then I was court ordered into Job Corps, which gave me the chance to get my high school diploma and get right into a career where you can get a job. I moved to Manhattan for the Flint Hills Job Corps where I got my culinary arts degree. I just got hired at Taco Bell.

I don’t always have the money to get everything I need at the grocery store. This makes it really hard when I don’t have a car and have to walk everywhere. I live on the opposite side of town so it’s an hour walk to and from work every day, no matter the weather. If it’s raining, snowing or fourteen degrees below, I am out there. After awhile, I can really feel my knees and ankles giving out and my overall health decreasing. The roads are a hazard for me because some of the areas in Manhattan where the sidewalk ends, you’re walking on the street at night. Some people don’t see me. It’s life.

I am very thankful for the Breadbasket allowing me to get extra food once a week. I also use some of the churches around town and the hot meals they provide. Sometimes it’s hard to keep faith, but my dream is to attend college and get a business degree so I can open up a bakery with my aunt who does wedding cakes and catering. I am thankful for the programs I have been given the opportunity to participate in. I would advise people not to get rid of the programs. Not everyone comes from parents who take care of them, but there are programs out there willing to help other people.

As told to Samone Givens

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