Meet Thalia, who resided at our Emergency Children’s Shelter at the age of five. More than a decade later, she has returned to the shelter as a volunteer to share her story of hope, love, and family.
The first few years of my life can only be described as precarious. The two adults who were supposed to be superheroes in my eyes instead turned out to be more concerned with drugs, alcohol and for an unfathomable reason, hurting my brothers and me.
I remember being woken up in the middle of the night to the sound of yelling and then being told that my brothers and I had to spend a couple of nights on the street because we weren’t welcome by one of my biological mom’s many boyfriends. At 5 years old, this unsteady cycle of neglect and abuse came to an abrupt halt when Child Crisis Arizona took me into their open arms, and let me tell you, even though I did not realize it at the time, I had never taken a bigger sigh of relief.
Being so young, I was scared at first. It was a new place filled with other children and adults I had never met before. I had a hard time trusting the adults because the only ones I had ever known betrayed me, but that quickly changed. Before Child Crisis Arizona, I, as well as countless other children, did not know what it felt like to be cared for or loved. Thinking about it now, my experience at Child Crisis Arizona brings tears of joy to my eyes. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was wanted, and I felt like I had a home.
The employees and volunteers who worked there were not just staff to me, they were my guardian angels. There are many memories I have from my time at Child Crisis Arizona, I remember being taken care of when I was sick, having my back rubbed when I couldn’t sleep and everything in between. Instead of doing the minimum required to get by, they went above and beyond to make sure I felt not only safe but happy.
Right after my sixth birthday at the shelter, two very special “volunteers” walked in the doors and asked my brother and me to give them a tour of the building. Little did we know that they were interested in adopting us. Apparently, we were impeccable tour guides because a year later, we were calling them “mom” and “dad!” The adoption process took a long time, but for a good reason. My brother and I were legally severed from my biological mom and Child Crisis Arizona had to make certain we were going to the appropriate family and ensure that it was in our best interest.
Throughout the process, we were allowed to go on visits with my then, potential family. Those were some of the best times ever and as a young 6-year-old, I couldn’t help but fall in love with them. My new dad was my own personal Superman. He was the most generous and determined man I had ever met thus far. His silly jokes made me giggle until my stomach hurt, something I had never experienced before. My mom was an angel sent by God to rescue me. The first time she wrapped me in her motherly embrace was as if her body was transparent and all I could see was this huge, shining, golden heart. My new older brother became my best friend and my protector, constantly putting my happiness before his own.
At the beginning of my senior year of high school, I decided to become a volunteer at Child Crisis Arizona. I went through all the training, did all the paperwork, and had my interview; but nothing prepared me for the immense amount of emotion I would feel my first day with the children.
When I was walking back to my car after my first shift, I broke down in tears. I had just witnessed the same love and care that was shown to me 12 years prior. There were children, like myself, who needed it most right now. In my eyes, there was nothing more beautiful than that.