A message from Chaille Hutcheson, Cherish Our Children International First Vice Chair
Watching Isabella walk the stage to receive her diploma from Texas A&M, you would have no idea what she went through to get there. Isabella is not her real name, but her story is true. Molested from the age of seven and with a father in prison, she was on her way to becoming just another statistic, a child who fell through the cracks.
In high school, Isabella joined No More Victims, Cherish Our Children International’s signature U.S. program, which addresses the physical, emotional, academic and social needs of the children of incarcerated parents. Through our skill-building and the peer support of her fellow students, Isabella emerged as a smart, outgoing high school student.
Then at 17, her life was turned upside down. Her homelife had always been unstable and chaotic, but now she was kicked out and found herself homeless. She dropped out of school. Again, she was becoming a statistic; nearly half of all children of incarcerated parents never graduate from high school.
However, her support network in No More Victims pushed her to go back and re-enroll. She returned for her senior year. She graduated as her class valedictorian. She earned a scholarship to Texas A&M.
Her life took another downward turn and she was unable to attend. Once again, she was in danger of becoming just a number.Only 15 percent of children of incarcerated parents even graduate from college.
Isabella bounced back yet again. She went to a local Houston community college and earned her associate degree. Then she went back to A&M and earned her bachelor’s degree in May. Now she is engaged and she is considering applying to med school.
Isabella has experienced firsthand the harsh, life-threatening challenges that threaten so many of the five million children of incarcerated parents in America.
There is a quote from writer Elizabeth Edwards: “She stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.”
What is so remarkable about Isabella is not that she has been knocked over by life so many times. It’s that, every time, she rights herself, adjusts her sails and keeps going. The No More Victims program can’t shield students from the bad things that life throws at them, but it does give them the skills to keep coming back and to live productive, valuable lives.
Won’t you help us change the lives of some of the most vulnerable children in our society?Here are the ways you can donate:
Call us at (713) 836-9147.
Mail a check to Cherish Our Children International, P.O. Box 79457, Houston 77279-9457.