The more I become educated to the human brain’s development and how childhood experiences affect it, I am passionately convicted that we must make heroic efforts from the first moment a child is taken into protective custody to protecting the emotional health of each individual priceless soul. We certainly should not carelessly, recklessly add to the emotional trauma. We have power with eachmoment, via simple effort, to inspire children and youth to perceive, believe and become successful, thriving, awesome people. The fact that right now most foster children are not thriving adults, reflects our failure more than theirs.
In 2007, I became the victim of a fifteen year worldwide financial online romance predator. I found myself in the darkest place I had ever been in my life. As shared in the NBC Dateline segment that gave a glimpse of my story, ,I miraculously came back to life on the day I realized that as long as I didn’t want to be alive, I didn’t want to care about my children the way I had, I didn’t want to do the things I loved doing – such as nursing – this predator was still robbing and violating me. Worse, I WAS ALLOWING HIM to rob the lives of people I would have touched and hopefully encouraged to not give up. I realized this event was so much more than just about me. My life is not about me.
Because of my story being told by NBC, I was contacted by Davina Merritt, another former foster child who ultimately opened my eyes to my responsibility to use my voice and be a voice for who I call the “invisible minority” also known as foster children.
To solidify my efforts and vision to change the very first interaction a child has with “the system”,I founded a non-profit called, HOPE CHASERS. My passion and goal via Hope Chasers is to passionately raise awareness to the plight offoster children in communities across the nation. I want to use my college degree and experience to get into the schools, churches and corporations to raise education as to the behaviors in youth/adults that create foster children. I believe that if young people are taught during their early years while their hearts are still tender as to how their behaviors (addictions, etc.) can affect and possibly torment the entire lifetime of an innocent soul – some will say no who may have said yes. Finally, I am determined we provide services for the foster children themselves. I want to spread the “Hope Tote” mission we initiated via Fostering Super Stars and support the amazing Sweet Cases of Together We Rise so that one day EVERY child being taken into protective custody gets a “Hope Tote” or “Sweet Case” versus a trash bag to put their scant number of belongings into. These small gifts of love are a miracle of hope to a hurting, broken hearted little soul.
Not all of us are born into HOPE. Some of us do not know what HOPE looks like for many years, if ever. We hear about HOPE; we are told about HOPE everywhere we go. But to the soul who is surrounded by people who have never known HOPE, or who is immersed in pain and sorrow, the thought of finding and embracing HOPE for themselves - can seem an impossible feat. I firmly believe that those of us who possess HOPE have been given the Honor and Duty of purposely being HOPE until that other person can find HOPE for themselves. HOPE is out there. I am a living testimony that sometimes you may have to search high, search low and even low crawl, but you CAN find her. The miracle is, once you find her and you have a glimpse of her miraculous beauty – you can choose to create the fuel that will drive you to find her yet again and again.
Make the decision to BE and CREATE HOPE CHASERS!
Esther Pilgrim is a Registered Nurse and Certified Case Manager who works with high risk pregnant women, primarily foster youth. Esther is a mother and grandmother. Esther has contributed to several books about foster children and foster care, and is the author of the book Authorized User. Esther can be found on Facebook and Twitter and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org