Anything She Wants To Be

Marissa had been spending her lunch hours on the cot in Pam Seubold’s office at Naperville North pretty much ever since she’d started there in the middle of the year. It was a safe place, and she wasn’t the only girl hanging out in the nurse’s office at lunchtime. There was a little group of them.

Marissa would listen to them chatter, but didn’t offer much about herself. Pam knew the girl had been through the wringer. Marissa had been living with an abusive, drug addicted father in central Illinois before she was removed from her home, separated from her two younger brothers, and placed with a foster family. That didn’t turn out to be a good situation either, so the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) moved her to Naperville to live with a new family, away from the gossip of a small town.

Every day Pam tried to get her to talk. Finally, Marissa began to trust her. In bits and pieces, Marissa started to open up about some of what she had gone through, the abuse she had suffered and how she had wanted to leave school to take care of her younger brothers but ended up being split up from them. And Pam says that she began to realize that Marissa “was probably going to need some more extensive help.”

They tried to find it. They started with DCFS, but Pam says DCFS “felt like they’d gotten to wherever they could get with her and for whatever reason they were on to the next student, the next child.”

Pam turned to 360 Youth, and was able to find a therapist that Marissa connected with and who was also able to come to the school to work with her, since she didn’t have a car. But the money to pay for the therapist just wasn’t there. Until Pam turned to NEF.

Pam, with Marissa’s help, applied for a grant in December of 2014 to get help from NEF’s Kid Booster Anonymous Fund. And by February 2015 Marissa was meeting with Kate from 360 Youth… and taking her life in a completely new direction.

“Marissa had some Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), some memories coming back, some tough times,” Pam says. “Kate started helping her, giving her those coping skills.” Pam also wanted Marissa to see that there were connections outside of Naperville North High School, people who would be there to help her move on and make decisions about her future.

Marissa is quite frank about what would have happened if NEF hadn’t made it possible for her to get help from 360 Youth. “I probably wouldn’t have graduated,” she says.

But now she is starting at College of DuPage with a scholarship from the Exchange Club of Naperville and plans to go into nursing. She is also a shift manager at McDonalds, landing that promotion even though she’d only been working there three months.

“I think Marissa will be successful in anything she wants to be,” says Pam. “She’s a hard worker, a beautiful young lady who has so much to offer.”

NEF’s Kid Booster Anonymous Fund provides timely help and is the “missing link” in circumstances where there’s no other family or community structure in place to meet the need at hand. This kind of unconditional support was something Marissa had never experienced before and it made a huge impression on her.

“People got together….they didn’t know me, but they cared enough to help me.”

Every year NEF’s Kid Booster Anonymous fund is a lifeline for so many young people in Naperville. With your help, NEF can continue to make sure kids like Marissa move toward a bright, promising future.

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