By Aimee Freston
When Alissa Campos was 9 years old, she and her younger sister were removed from their mother’s care and placed in the home of their great aunt in Midland, Texas.
Campos was old enough to know her mother wasn’t doing well, and she spent the rest of her childhood angry at her for not taking the necessary steps to rectify the situation.
“When I was younger, me and my mom’s relationship was really great. She was a good mom,” she said. “The last time she went away, I had so much anger and so much resentment and sadness, it was just horrible.”
Campos had to grow up fast. While her aunt doted on her younger sister, Alissa always felt she was an outsider, someone who just came with her baby sister. She never was able to establish a connection with her aunt.
But Campos was determined and ambitious. When she was just 16 years old, she got her certified nurse assistant license even though she couldn’t get hired because of her young age.
Right before she turned 18, she had the opportunity to meet her mother for the first time in years.
It was awkward, she said, but they talked for hours. After that conversation, she and her mom started communicating through text messages and on the phone.
Campos eventually visited her mother and half-sisters in Dallas. Her mother was living at Buckner Family Pathways, a transitional home for single parents to receive affordable housing, child care and counseling while attending college.
During the visit, her mother encouraged her to apply to the Buckner NextStep program, a transitional home for young women who have aged out of foster care.
Campos didn’t want to leave Midland, so she put the idea behind her.
Or so she thought. A few weeks after graduating from high school, she moved to Dallas and was accepted into the program.
Living on the same campus has helped repair their broken relationship. Talking to her mom and half-sisters used to be uncomfortable for Campos, but now it’s completely natural.
“We spent a lot of time apart, and I spent a lot of time hating her,” she said. “And it doesn’t feel that way now … it feels like we’ve been together all this time.”
Campos was able to see the positive changes in her mother and see how Family Pathways gave her mother the direction and help she needed to be a good mother and student. “She works really hard,” she said about her mom. “I wish I could work that hard. I really do.”
Where there was once resentment now there is only admiration. Campos marvels that such a transformation has taken place.
While she may not think she works as hard as her mom, she is determined and has goals too.
She renewed her CNA and is working toward her associate degree and other certifications. Eventually, she wants to become a nurse.
She currently works the night shift at Ventana by Buckner, the newest Buckner senior living community to open in Dallas, as a CNA in skilled nursing.
Campos said it feels natural to work with patients, and it’s something she has grown to enjoy. She also appreciates the difference the efforts of Buckner, a Texas Baptist ministry, has made in her life.
“Buckner has done so much for me and my family,” she said.
Teaching life skills
The counselors at NextStep have helped Campos with resources and guidance to help her succeed after she leaves the program, such as learning to make a budget and saving. They even helped her navigate how to buy a new car.
She has one more year in the NextStep program, and she is determined to glean as much information as she can during that year.
“I have goals,” Campos said. “I need to save more because I don’t want to be in a bind. I need to learn to budget. I’m trying to be as independent as I can be.”
To read more articles on Buckner Family Pathways, visit baptiststandard.com.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This article was originally published by the Baptist Standard.