Clementina didn’t know how she would ever overcome her grief.
She was just 14 when her father died of cancer. He hadn’t been sick long, and Clementina had never known anyone who had died. She had no idea how much she would miss him or the toll that grief would take on her mother and sisters, too.
Her family had never had much money, and although both of her parents had always worked, neither of them had gone to college.
With her father’s income gone, Clementina’s mother struggled to make ends meet—that is, until her grief made it so difficult to remember tasks at her job that she was laid off.
Along with her mother and her sisters, Clementina went to live with her aunt and uncle to keep the family off the streets.
But life at their relatives’ house went sour quickly. Her aunt and uncle looked at their new guests as necessary and didn’t accommodate them. For months, Clementina didn’t even have a bed. When their mother wasn’t around, her relatives would feed her and her sisters leftovers after their own kids had eaten.
Eventually, her cousins began bullying her. It was verbal at first, but it escalated, ultimately becoming physical.
Clementina’s mother realized she had to do something for her girls. She sent two of them to live with another relative, but Clementina refused to go. Her mother asked their parish priest whether he had any recommendations, and he suggested Mercy Home.
At Mercy Home, Clementina was able to live in peace away from strife with her relatives and find the therapy that could help her deal with her grief. But also importantly, in her new safe environment, Clementina was able to raise her grades back to her former straight A’s.
Good grades had always been natural for her before. But after her father died, and with all the problems at her relatives’, her grades had slipped down to levels she was embarrassed about.
Finding motivation to do better was key. Clementina’s tutors encouraged her at each of her lessons, and she took advantage of after-school learning programs at Mercy Home to catch up.
She also benefitted from a change in schools, where no one knew her as the girl whose dad had died, and where she would get extra help.
Her new school also catered to a wider range of academic abilities, so once Clementina had caught up, she was able to excel. She even enrolled in honors’ classes and joined several clubs.
After two years at Mercy Home, she finally was getting the grades she knew she was capable of. And she had found her strength as a natural leader, rising to the top of her school’s French club and DECA (a business club) to become president of both.
Clementina also joined both of her school’s honor societies, encouraging their members—after spending so much time at Mercy Home on community service projects with her housemates—to find more ways to volunteer together.
Thank you for giving kids like Clementina a second chance to become the bright young people they always wanted to be—and changing the community for the better.
Disclaimer: Because we care deeply about protecting our children’s privacy, the names and certain identifying details in this story have been changed.