Aluma Honors Donors Through Life of Service

Aluma Honors Donors Through Life of Service

Jim Williams:

Kristina Jordan, Captain Kristina Jordan is devoting her life to service, paying off a debt, she says.

Kristina Jordan:

Somebody was pitching in to help raise me, develop me, mentor me, guide me, and I just always felt like I owed it to somebody else to pay back.

Jim Williams:

With a heart full of gratitude, Kristina is an officer in the United States Army National Guard and a proud member of the Mercy Home family.

Kristina Jordan:

Without Mercy, I don’t know where I’d be. I did move in there with a lot of pain and I remember feeling very sorry for myself.

Jim Williams:

The wounds were fresh when we first shared Kristina’s story in 2005. She was 14 when her mother sent her from Lithuania to live with her father in Chicago.

Fr. Scott Donahue:

Her mom had a dream for her to come to the United States, to live with her father, to embrace the American dream.

Jim Williams:

But the moment she stepped off the plane at O’Hare Airport, greeted by her father, Kristina saw trouble.

Kristina Jordan:

I remember the first sight of him. He was intoxicated and walking off balance and I was just like, “Oh, what is this?” I didn’t know how to take the first night here.

Jim Williams:

She had traveled more than 7,000 miles and moved into a home of alcoholism and abuse.

Kristina Jordan:

I remember vividly one day, when I came in through the front door, there was grease and there was blood dripping off in the kitchen floor. What happened later, it turns out that my dad took the pan and hit my stepmother on the head with it because the steak wasn’t rare enough.

Fr. Scott Donahue:

And you can only begin to imagine. She thought, “Here I came to embrace this American dream, and this is what I have?” To see the physical and the verbal abuse, the addictive behavior.

Jim Williams:

A classroom assignment revealed Kristina’s despair.

Kristina Jordan:

In one of my classes, we had to write journals and I started journaling what was going on at my house and I remember the teacher approached me and she goes, “Is this fiction?” I said no.

Fr. Scott Donahue:

This teacher intervenes. She’s like a guardian angel who sees the talent in this young woman and says, “You’re in the wrong place. There’s a better place for you to live. It’s called Mercy Home For Boys & Girls.”

Jim Williams:

The Mercy Home For Boys & Girls. Since 1887, it’s been a port in the storm for children in crisis.

Fr. Scott Donahue:

Every young person who comes to Mercy Home has experienced trauma in their lives. When young people experience abuse of any kind, trust is violated. Trust is broken.

Kristina Jordan:

And I was just saying all this stuff, how I feel trapped, I don’t know where I belong, I don’t want to go back home because I don’t see eye to eye with my mom. She’s to blame while I’m here. My dad is dead to me. I don’t want to see him either. I just felt like I had nobody and nothing and I was just crying, falling apart.

Fr. Scott Donahue:

To try to trust in the young person is an extraordinarily difficult task.

Jim Williams:

But the home’s extraordinary staff of professionals was patient. Eventually, Kristina knew she had a real home here.

Monti Clayton:

I sort of said to her, “You know what? You can’t tear down a mountain in a day. So, can we just carve at it a little bit?” And I got that little smile and I was like, uh-oh, some emotion.

Jim Williams:

Still, Kristina’s father was so angry, so resentful, he vowed to send Kristina back to Lithuania.

Monti Clayton:

It was a lot of tears. It was a lot of crying and a lot of sadness. And me being me, I had to figure out how to help her, and I called her father. At first, he hung up on me and he told me, “Don’t call the house again.” So, I waited a couple of days and I called again.

Jim Williams:

And called and called and called. The Mercy Home’s Monti Clayton would not give up.

Monti Clayton:

One night, I asked him if he could do something that would make his heart less heavy, to let Kristina remain at Mercy Home, to let Kristina continue to grow.

Jim Williams:

Kristina’s father finally relented, and she flourished. Kristina graduated from Elmhurst College and became an officer in the United States Military. The home saw her leadership and determination to serve early on.

Fr. Scott Donahue:

Her intellectual curiosity, her energy, her enthusiasm, the way she took care of her peers has never left me.

Jim Williams:

She went on to earn a master’s degree and is now married. Life is good.

Kristina Jordan:

I have every intention of coming back as a donor so I can tell the kids I know how it is.

Jim Williams:

From the anguish of Kristina Jordan’s teenage years to a life of service with thanks to the Mercy Home For Boys & Girls and it’s generous donors.

Kristina Jordan:

This home has been the best version for my life, for sure. So extremely grateful. People have impacted my life and no amount of money… I can never repay that. All I can do is pay forward and continue to not disappoint.

Fr. Scott Donahue:

100% privately funded. If it weren’t for you, there would not be the miracles that take place. Look at Kristina. Look at her life and look what you’ve done. I am deeply grateful.

 

Kristina Jordan, a Captain in the U.S. Army National Guard, has devoted her life and career to service—a deliberate choice in honor of the time she lived at Mercy Home for Boys & Girls.

“I chose to serve in the military because I thought I could pay back those donors who paid for the roof over my head, food, hot water, and high-quality education during my time at Mercy Home,” Kristina said. “I continue to serve today because the staff at Mercy taught me what leadership can do for a person.”

Life is picture-perfect these days for Kristina. She has a clear purpose, a fulfilling career, and recently earned her master’s degree in Homeland Security. She is happily married in Delaware and loves taking advantage of the state’s beaches with her husband and pit bull. But when she first moved to the U.S. from Lithuania, life was far less than perfect.

When Kristina was 14, her mother sent her to live with her father in Chicago. She wanted her daughter to have a better life and live the American Dream. But the moment she stepped off the plane, she got a glimpse of the nightmare to come. Her father was intoxicated and stumbling.

It didn’t take long before Kristina realized her new home was full of alcoholism and abuse. One day, she recalls coming home to find grease and blood dripping on the kitchen floor.

“My dad took the pan and hit my stepmother in the head with it because the steak wasn’t rare enough,” she said.

Kristina stayed at school long hours to avoid going home. Eventually, a classroom journaling assignment revealed the truth when Kristina wrote about her home life. “The teacher approached me and goes, ‘Is this fiction?’ I said ‘no.’”

Like a lifesaver, Kristina’s teacher intervened and offered a solution: Mercy Home. Prior to moving in, Kristina was conflicted. She didn’t want to return to Lithuania and blamed her mother for her situation. But she didn’t want to see her father, either. She felt trapped.

“I just felt like I had nobody and nothing,” she said. “I was falling apart.”

But Mercy Home’s patient and loving coworkers helped Kristina realize that she belonged and made her feel like she had a home. Monti Clayton, Kristina’s former program manager, gave her some sage advice.

“I sort of said to her, you know what, you can’t tear down a mountain in a day, so can we just carve at it a little bit?” Monti recalled telling her.

“I just felt like I had nobody and nothing. I was falling apart.”

– Kristina Jordan

Kristina’s father was angry and resentful and vowed to send her back to Lithuania. But Monti was persistent and continued to chip away at his obstinance.

“One night I asked him if he could do something that would make his heart less heavy—to let Kristina remain at Mercy Home, to let Kristina continue to grow,” Monti said.

When her dad finally relented, Kristina began to flourish at Mercy Home. She finished high school and went on to graduate from Elmhurst College. To this day, Kristina’s determination and tenacity continues to resonate around our Home.

“Her intellectual curiosity, her energy, her enthusiasm, the way she took care of her peers…has never left me,” said Father Scott Donahue.

As she continues to live the good life, Kristina remains ever grateful for the patience, guidance, and tools that Mercy Home provided. She is especially appreciative of the love and support she received—not only from our coworkers, but from our donors.

“You did not have to love me, but I felt it and I developed into who I am today,” she wrote in a note to Mercy Home. “I don’t think I can ever repay you for what you have done for me, but I will continue to try.”

One way she envisions doing so is to emulate those who support Mercy Home for Boys & Girls.

“I have every intention of coming back as a donor, so I can tell the kids ‘I know how it is,’” she said.

“You did not have to love me, but I felt it and developed into who I am today. I don’t think I can ever repay you for what you have done for me, but I will continue to try.”

– Kristina Jordan

We are so proud of Kristina and all her accomplishments, and all the love and happiness she’s found. All of it can be traced back to our donors, whom we salute and thank for their support.

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