Situation: As a child, Mallory always believed she was just handed “a bad deck of cards,” in the form of a childhood filled with abuse.
“This was just the life I was dealt, and it’s just a bad life,” says Mallory. “Some people have good lives and some people have horrible lives, and that was me.”
Mallory’s most distinct childhood memory is the physical abuse her mother suffered at the hands of her drunken father.
Even after her parents divorced when Mallory was 7 years old and her father had left, abuse was not removed from Mallory’s life. She was sexually abused by her stepfather for six years, until she was 14.
Two years later, she knew she needed help to recover from her childhood.
“That was the most hopeless I had ever been, I knew I had to leave,” she says.
And she did. At age 16, Mallory left her mother’s home and came into the Youth in Need family.
How United Way Helped: Youth in Need, a United Way partner agency, immediately placed Mallory in their emergency shelter. The shelter houses up to 12 children and teens who are considered to be in a crisis situation at home.
After a few months of living in the emergency shelter, Mallory returned home. However, the situation at home had not changed for the better.
Soon Mallory returned to Youth in Need. This time she was placed in the transitional living group home. The group home gave Mallory all her basic needs such as housing, food, financial security and safety. However, Youth in Need gave Mallory more than tangible items.
“They didn’t just take me in, they loved me, they cared about me, they gave me the guidance to become an adult and they helped me to be who I am today.”
Mallory also said one of the most important things Youth in Need offered her was unconditional support. They gave her the courage to once again pursue her goals and dreams in life, one of which was going to college.
“Without United Way funding Youth in Need, the shot of me having the life I have right now are slim to none.”
Mallory Today: Mallory continued to flourish long after leaving Youth in Need. She went on to attend college at Lindenwood University, receiving not one, but two degrees.
Mallory is now using her education to build a healthier community. She works as a coordinator for United Way partner agency, Community Living, a St. Charles County-based nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of people with disabilities.
In addition to her academic success, Mallory has the loving family she once thought she could never have. She and her husband, Tim, are the parents to a one-year-old son.
“I never thought that I could have a normal family. I thought that my family was just going to be a disaster, and I was going to be a horrible mom.”
Youth in Need gave Mallory the tools to have the “normal” life she always wanted, and now she hopes to give the same support to other children.
Recently, Mallory and her husband opened up their home and became foster parents to a 14-year-old girl. Their new foster daughter had been shifted around between foster houses her whole life. Mallory believes everyone deserves love and safety and wanted to give this girl the same love she was given by Youth in Need.
“It’s like a dream come true. I’m determined that they get to go to bed every night and feel loved and safe. It’s something I never thought they could have, or I could have, but I can help supply that for them.”
Today, it looks like Mallory’s “bad deck of cards” has turned into an excellent hand.
About Youth in Need: Youth In Need has been serving the greater St. Louis area since 1974 and has been a United Way partner agency since 1977. The agency’s first client was a teenage runaway, who left her home after another beating and was picked up on the streets and taken to the local jail with adult criminals. Troubled by the community’s response to runaway and homeless teens, volunteers changed the way these teens were treated by opening Youth In Need’s Emergency Shelter.
Today, more than 300 full- and part-time staff serve more than 10,000 of the area’s most vulnerable children, teens and families at 25 locations in six counties in eastern Missouri.
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