When Heather Johnson, leader of the Council’s Individual Advocacy team, met her, Alexus was in DSS custody. Her mother had failed to keep her safe in the home and her mental health needs were not being met. In the two and a half years before Heather met her, Alexus had been in eight different foster homes in multiple schools. She had been hospitalized numerous times for her mental/emotional needs, had been bullied in school and had been a runaway for nearly three months. Needless to say her academics were practically non-existent. She was not yet 15.
Heather worked with Alexus for over two years. Over that time, her commitment to Alexus and her situation never wavered and led to a bond of trust between the two of them that Heather had worked to establish.
Heather brought together the social workers, the foster parents, the teachers and the mental health professionals to form a team for Alexus. They developed an Individualized Education plan and a Crisis plan for Alexus. They stabilized her living situation and her mental/emotional situation. Heather worked hard – Alexus worked incredibly hard because Heather had helped instill her with self-confidence and self-worth, which she well deserved.
Because of their hard work, Alexus graduated on time last June with the class she was supposed to graduate with. She tested in the 90th percentile for both English and Math and she will finish her first year of college at CPCC this year and after next year will transfer to UNCC. There she hopes to continue her studies and eventually work with children experiencing the kind of trauma and challenge that she has faced and overcome.
Heather continues to be friend, advocate and role model for the now adult Alexus.
We were honored that Alexus allowed us to share her story with our guests at A Night for Children’s Rights on February 25. She and Heather were there together and our guests were truly inspired and moved by their story. Alexus is an inspiration to all of us who do this work and who believe this work does and can change all our lives.