My Story, by Doria Patterson
Many individuals think of Foster Care as being a negative experience for the children that are in the system. That was not the case for me. I became a part of “the system” at age 15 and I aged out at age 18. Three short years that made such a huge impact in my life. But before the sunshine there was definitely rain. Before I became a foster child, I attempted to support myself in every way possible. I connected with my high school corrections officer to try and emancipate myself but I quickly realized that was not possible. I slept at multiple friends’ houses , brought duffle bags to school everyday filled with clothes, and the hardest for me was sleeping in my (ex)boyfriend’s car at the time while it was parked in the garage of his grandparents’ home. That was the final breaking point for me. I ran out of options and I truly felt homeless. If there was a place like The Open Door House back then, I can honestly say that I would have NEVER had to feel homeless another day in my life. To have a place that I could call home was the only thing that kept me going. I eventually got placed with a (not so good) family that provided me with a stable home, yes, but did not provide me with the necessary tools to truly believe in myself. That is what The Open Door House is all about ! A home that will be not only a safe haven, but it will be a house that will provide so many opportunities for these girls.
When you age out of the system in Cabarrus County, you have the option to either leave your placement, move with a close relative, or just simply be on your own . For me, I just wanted to live alone because of my need/want to be independent. Being independent is one thing that you can never take away from any child or adult in foster care. The Open Door House will be a place for young women to be independent. The home itself already has such a positive aura about it ! It makes me want to smile everytime I think about how happy those girls will be walking into their home everyday. Not just some building that houses 40+ kids with barely any space to be independent.
When I aged out of foster care, I was given the opportunity to go to a 4-year college in Durham at North Carolina Central University . So housing was not an issue for me BUT, if I had decided not to go to college, I would not have had a stable home to live in therefore, I would have gone right back to being homeless. This is why The Open Door House would have been the PERFECT place for a girl like me ! A place that young women can call home. As soon as I walk into the doors of TODH, my heart lights up ! The scripture that you’ll receive as soon as you walk in (Phillipians 4:13), the beautiful chandeliers, the NEW appliances, bedding, decorations, everything that a young girl like me would have loved to see . This will help the girls who live there understand that they are loved, they are cared for, and they are important.