Kristen H
Letter to the Editor

August 5, 2011

Dear Friends of Families, future parents, and future donators,

Without meeting, or completely knowing my heartaches, others came to my rescue.  Others included the staff at New Leaf academy, and the generous donators of Friends of Families.  Thanks to all I have spoken to as well as the many people I will probably never have the privilege to meet.

I am a divorced, single mother of 4 teenagers, aged 18, 16 & 16 (twins), and 14.  My youngest daughter was 12 when things at school as well as home fell apart.  When (My Child) was 5 years old, her father and I divorced.  Unfortunately, after my divorce, she turned to food as a crutch.  Kids at school were not nice to the big girl.  She subsequently did not like school, stopped trying academically, and had difficulty interpreting and responding appropriately in social situations.  Finding peace with reading, she developed a great love of vampire books.  She also grew to love the thought of gothic images.  Both are fine for basic entertainment, however, my daughter took both to an unhealthy and self-destructive level.  She became withdrawn and depressed.  I sought help from our primary care provider, she began antidepressant therapy and continued the counseling she had been engaged in since age 5.  She grew sadder and sadder.  Her depression grew to thoughts of self-harm, she took a knife to school, and got caught.  Getting suspended from school made her more sad.  She began to cut herself and dreamed about blood and the glorified persona of vampires, and death.  Her suicide note and intense thoughts of self-harm landed her in the hospital, in the child psychiatric unit.  Following discharge, we tried new medications, new counselors, a psychiatrist, and 4 new schools.  Things went from bad to worse. 

Desperate to find some help for my daughter, I sought the internet.  New Leaf Academy seemed to understand, and after a visit and consult with another parent, I enrolled her.  Her father, only agreed to allow her to enroll, if he signed a form stating that he was 100% not financially responsible.  Desperate, I charged the fees on credit cards.  I continued to do so for many months, until my cards were maxed out.  I tried to qualify for the student loans offered through initial enrollment, but found my debt to equity rate too high to qualify.  If I found a co-signer, I could be qualified.  I asked family members to co-sign, they did not agree with my plan to assist my daughter and declined any financial ties.  Desperate to continue with New Leaf, I worked 65-70+ hour work weeks and continued to borrow on credit cards. 

New Leaf staff were all well aware of my financial struggles and offered a referral to Friends of Families.  By a miraculous gift, they qualified me and helped to keep my daughter in treatment and graduate from the program.  I was close to losing my home, not doing well working so hard for so long, and desperate for someone to assist. 

It is quite difficult to not know how or what else to do to help someone you love.  Being a medical professional myself, I have felt especially overwhelmed  and powerlessness during the search and struggle to assist my children.  New Leaf helped save my daughter. The student loan provided by Friends of Families helped me provide the financial support to attain treatment for my daughter and take care of my family.  The emotional and psychological support provided by New Leaf helped restore my daughter’s self-esteem and self-confidence.  The program helped heal our relationship and provided me with tools and resources.  During parent seminars, I felt respected and appreciated.  Throughout our New Leaf journey, we explored negative patterns and behaviors and are completely committed to positive changes and success.

I am proud to report that my daughter has graduated from New Leaf and is home.  She plans to begin an Arts Academy in the fall for High School.  Her closing speech for graduation was awesome and she performed a solo to Man in the Mirror, by Michael Jackson. 

Thanks for understanding that sometimes a parent needs help, to help their child, thanks for giving my family a chance.  I appreciate the Friends of Families!

Kristen H.

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