A Guest Post by Mrs. Nicole, a former resident of TBCH’s Oakdale campus:

My name is Nicole Brown. Im 33yrs old, born in Clearwater Florida. I was put into the TBCH in October of 1996. My parents had been separated since I was 2 and my Mother was a drug addict and alcoholic. My father had remarried to the wicked witch of the south, when I was about 5 and move me to TN when I was 7 to get away from my mother. As soon as we got to TN, my stepmother started beating and starving me (I have stories for days) while my father was always at work.

After years of abuse, I finally told a counselor at school when I was 12. They did an investigation but nothing came of it. My dad didn’t believe me and my stepmother made him think that I was making this up to break up their marriage. My father then sent me to Florida to live with my mom. I was the happiest I had ever been! I finally got to see my mom, it had been 6years since I had seen her.

Everything was picture perfect for about a month and then she started leaving me home by myself for days at a time, not letting me know when she would return. I started skipping school and hanging out with the wrong people. During that time, I did any and everything I shouldn’t have. Everything from drugs, drinking, gangs, sex, fighting and stealing. Eventually I had stopped going to school (7th grade.)

After the truancy officer came to my house a couple times, they realized that I was home alone. They called my dad because he still had legal custody of me, and made him come get me. My dad drove down from Tennessee to pick me up, but he said I couldn’t live with him. My stepmother had given him an ultimatum, it was either he send me away or she was leaving. That’s when he sent me to TBCH.

I remember that day like it was yesterday. I got to the Children’s Homes the evening of October 26th 1996. I remember the drive was very long and the actual house was way back in the woods. The house was huge and full of strangers. I was 13 at the time. Mrs. Rogers showed me to my room. My new roommate’s name was Brittany (still BFFs to this day!)

We went to church that night, it was the first night of Judgement house. I had no idea what was going on. I had never really been to church or anything like it before. I was in complete shock. I had so many emotions running through my head I just didn’t know how to process all of this. The Rogers had me in counseling and I was given meds to help deal with my issues, but I was so broken that I tried taking my life in the bathroom floor by cutting my wrist with a shaving razor.

It took me a long time to feel comfortable with church, but since we were at church every time the doors were open, I had to get used to it. Honestly that was the only thing that would eventually help me.  I found out that I liked to sing, so I got more involved with the youth choir. I loved everything we did in our youth group. It changed my life. I had been abandoned by everyone in my family but just knowing that Jesus loved me and my church and TBCH family loved me, it made life a little easier. I will not lie and say the 6 years I was there was all fun and games. I had a lot of hard times, brought on by myself, but at the end of the day, TBCH saved me and changed my life. If it wasn’t for them, I would be dead like my sister or a drug addict and alcoholic like my parents, but instead I am a wife and mother of 2, living by the beach in St. Pete Florida making over 50k a year! I am beyond thankful that I am a success story!

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you Mr. & Mrs. Rogers for dedicating your life to give all of us girls a fight chance. I can NEVER thank you enough! I love you both more than you will EVER know!