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"What Drives You?" Essay First Place Winners!

Congratulations!

to the First Place Winners

in the Volvo "What Drives You?" Essay Contest!


What Drives You?

First Place Winner #1

by Constance Jack

WHAT DRIVES ME

What drives me to work
is this heap of a car
with it's gas guzzling gasps,
thank God it's not far!

It's more than a car,
the kids seem to think,
it's part of the fam,
it's got their own stink.

They've named it "Old Blob",
this storecar of wares,
if it's lost in the house,
in Blob, it is there.

Oh, the places Blob's been,
cross the states once or twice,
now poops along slowly,
cross the town will suffice.

In the garage she does leak,
and even at school,
kids poke and laugh,
beneath is a pool.

Sure, we'd like to retire Blob,
it's serve us real well,
but the kids would just die,
oh, how can we sell?

It would take some kind of car,
to sway them away,
from this car full of tooth marks
and familiar decay.

Should we poop right along,
with a gasp and a choke,
spend for repairs
until we are broke?

For kids, it is more
than a car, don't you see?
It's their childhood all wrapped
in their short history.

So, I'm torn, what to do
with this thing that drives me
which, in it's own way,
is as special can be.


What Drives You?

First Place Winner #2

by Arlene Gail Head

THE REAL HEROS

Kids who need homes. Kids who need love. All children need homes and love but what "drives me" and inspires me is being a Foster Parent, along with my husband, to as many children as we can.

I knew when I was an older teen that I would be a foster parent when I was ready to be. I was in a foster home myself from the age of 14-18 and things were just not right. And I knew it. I wanted to help make things different when I was older. Foster homes were a fairly new way of housing kids who needed homes in the late 60's when I went into foster care. I believe the foster care program began in the early 60's. Before that, the dreaded orphanages. Foster homes was definitely a step in the right direction but still needed more regulations and supervision because when I was in foster care I was used as a "worker bee". A "slave".

I ended up not being "ready" to be a foster parent until I was 39 years old. At that time, we felt like we were stable enough to take on the responsibility of being foster parents to some very needy kids. And up until then, we know now that we didn't have the parenting skills or the patience and unselfishness that it takes to be a good foster parent. So, at that time we began the lengthy process to become foster parents.

Finally, in Feb. of 1994, we had our license! We couldn't wait for the first child to be placed with us. A foster parent has a choice of what ages, sex,etc. they want to take in. We had teens as our preference because very few homes would take teenagers but would really take any child who needed a home.

Over the past four years we have had boys and girls ages 6-19. Yes, they can still be in a foster home if they are over 18 but still going to school. And this happens frequently because when the kids are with their natural parents, sometimes the living conditions are so terrible that they miss alot of school and sometimes don't attend school at all.

We've heard people say things like "the kids know how to manipulate the system" and " they are lying about their parents" but I can honestly say that every child we have had in our home needs to be here. As I write this, we have a teen boy who was beat regularly by his Father, a teen boy who's Father just doesn't want him; just threw him away and a brother and sister who's Mother has a mental illness and cannot provide for her children. This Mother refuses to take her medication even though it would probably mean she would be able to function and get her children back. The stories of all the kids that we've had would probably make you sick. Drugs, prostitution, physical abuse, extreme mental and emotional abuse, neglect. Eating expired food from the dumpsters behind Super Kmart. Maggots in pots and pans in the kitchen. Sexual abuse. A never-ending list.

Our heros are these kids. They have taught us many, many things. I think the most important thing they have taught us is love. How to give love even when you are being spit on or told to "shut up". Unconditonal love. Yes, it does exist. These kids are strong. If they weren't they would be babbling idiots in an institution. Sometimes they go through disappointment after disappointment and most of them are survivors, surviving the toughest tests of mankind. They have taught us inner strength. They have taught us patience. They have taught us to enjoy the things we used to take for granted and to be thankful for what used to seem like the simple pleasures in life.

I hope that we have taught them as well. I know that we have watched many of our kids leave here with a sense of humor they never had before. We try to teach all our kids to do their PERSONAL BEST in all they do. We have shown even the most pessimistic child that there really are people who care.

But in the end, it is our foster children who give the most. I guess I could live without them. But I never want to. They are my inspiration to keep giving and living. I hope and pray that I will stay healthy and strong for many years to come so that we can continue learning, giving and loving.

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