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Brittany's Story: From Runaway Teen To Proud Mother

What do you do when you're eight years old and living at home with your parents is no longer a safe option?  Who do you turn to at age 12 after being in multiple foster care homes that just don't seem right to you?  Where do you go at age 16 when you realize you're two months pregnant and still running away from your problems?

This is the story of Brittany and her journey to make a better life.

Brittany's father was physically abusive and at age eight she was removed from the home and placed into foster care.  By 18, Brittany had been in a total of sixteen placements and had run away from seven of them.

In January 2010, while on the run again, Brittany realized that she was two months pregnant with nowhere to turn.  It was then she contacted her case worker seeking a different option and was referred to Family Tree Gemini.

Family Tree Gemini is a licensed therapeutic residential child care facility providing emergency shelter, counseling, education, 24-hour referral line, aftercare and street outreach to homeless and runaway youth, within a structured environment.

Returning home to live with her family was not an option for Brittany and foster care obviously wasn't working, however, in the beginning Brittany wasn't sure about Family Tree Gemini either.  "I would isolate myself in my room for long periods of time and I refused to participate in any group activities or life skills classes," explained Brittany.

Gemini staff members recall Brittany struggling with her anger at first, but after a few months she began to refocus on why she was at Gemini and her primary goals while living there.  Brittany's goals included obtaining her GED, pursuing housing opportunities and eventually going to college.

With her goals in mind, Brittany was able to enter an emancipation program through the Department of Social Services, which offered her life skills classes while working to complete her GED.  With the support of Family Tree she researched housing options and was connected to CollegeInvest to obtain financial aid.  In addition, Family Tree provided Brittany with tools to manage her anger and deal with stress.

Today, thanks to the financial assistance from CollegeInvest, Brittany was accepted into Emily Griffith Opportunity School and is studying cosmetology as a full-time student.  She recognized her experience at Gemini as the key to reaching her most important goal - being the best parent she can be for her seven month old daughter, Isabelle.

Family Tree honored Brittany at the 2011 Celebration of Achievement, where Brittany expressed her gratitude and shared the following: "Today, I know my daughter will never have to experience the kind of life I had growing up.  Thank you Family Tree."


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