Sisters Overcome Overwhelming Odds

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With Help from PCHAS, Sisters Overcome Overwhelming Odds

Over eight years ago, Pam Crawford, Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services’ Child and Family Supervisor in Corsicana (now a regional PCHAS Director) received two anxious telephone calls from the local high school asking for help for two sisters. One call was from the school counselor and the other from a teacher. Both were concerned about Kianna and Leshia, two high-school juniors who were caring for their two younger brothers, ages 13 and 9, along with their father’s girlfriend’s four young children in a home without electricity, heat, or running water.

Pam set up an appointment to do an assessment with Kianna and Leshia, thinking that she would either recommend that the siblings be placed in a PCHAS Group Home or make a call to Child Protective Services (CPS). However, after talking with the girls she knew that they were capable of taking care of themselves and their younger   brothers-indeed, had already been doing so for many years. The girls had done an admirable job taking care of their younger brothers, despite very difficult circumstances, and Pam thought that with a little help from PCHAS, they could stay together as a family.

In that initial meeting, Pam learned that Kianna and Leshia had taken care of themselves and their little brothers almost single handedly since their mother had died seven years prior to Pam meeting them. Their father, while well meaning, was an alcoholic and could not care for the children, often leaving them with strangers. For a period of time when there was no electricity in the home they were living in, the girls used a flashlight to complete homework for school. One sister would hold the flashlight for the other then they would take turns holding the flashlight until everyone’s homework was completed. The girls shared a part-time job at a local fast food restaurant where one sister worked every other night while the other sister watched the younger boys.

When Pam learned how the girls had coped over the years she was astounded by their ingenuity and strong desire to keep their family together. She said, “These girls were already parenting their siblings and I knew they had the capacity to continue doing so. Long story short, we assisted them in obtaining an apartment, social security survivor benefits, eventually a Habitat For Humanity house, and provided emotional support through their high school years.

With the care and support provided by PCHAS, the girls eventually graduated from high school and both started college while continuing to parent their younger brothers. Kianna earned a “Maverick” scholarship to University of Texas, Arlington and Leshia began an LVN (Licensed Vocational Nurse) program at a local college. College proved difficult for both girls. Kianna struggled with untreated lupus and eventually, was forced to drop out due to her illness.

In 2012, they reached out to Pam, who put them in touch with the congregation of Northside Church in Corsicana. The church “adopted” the family as part of their “Open Table” program. Open Table is a process where 10 to 12 church members commit to a year-long relationship with a family in the com­munity. The goal is to help the family move from poverty to self-sufficiency.

Pam was invited to be a member of the Open Table team.

The Open Table supported the girls for two years, and Pam is pleased to report that both Kianna and leshia graduated from college and are starting new jobs. Kianna graduated in December 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in finance and is working for ExxonMobil and Leshia earned her LVN degree from Navarro College in August 2014 and just started a new job at a skilled nursing facility the very next day!

Although the family is no longer receiving services from PCHAS, they are still very close to Pam and other PCHAS staff members, who are proud of their progress. The sisters continue to live