Just the Beginning

e nini hassee
Torri and Aileen at Eckerd’s Children’s Hero of the Year Award

Guest Blog by Eckerd Kids’ Early Intervention & Prevention Coordinator Aileen David

Smart, independent, bold, fearless… these are just some of the qualities that describe Tori.  However, these same qualities fueled a lot of Tori’s problems as a teen.  I first met Tori when she was 14 years old at the Marion Regional Detention Center.  I was a re-entry counselor. She had run away from camp E-Nini-Hasse, alone, at night.

Fearless… Bold…

Tori had things–the system – figured out.  “I will do less time in a level 8” she said. She didn’t need help from me, or anyone else for that matter. Tori’s mother had passed away when she was very young. Her father had a job that kept him away from home.  She had a grandmother who did her best to raise her.

Smart… Independent…

Tori continued to struggle all through her teen years.  She came in and out of my life through the years and each time I would see or speak to her I knew that while she may not be where she needs to be – she was getting there.  I always saw her potential and knew one day she would “really” figure it out.

Tori is now 27 years old.  She is enrolled in college full time.  She is working on getting her AA and plans to get her B.A.  She is volunteering with a great prevention program.  Tori sits right next to me – this time as my peer at planning prevention events in our community.  “I want a chance to be able to talk to kids and hopefully prevent them from making the same mistakes I made.  I thought I knew everything.”  She is raising a beautiful family, she is a great wife. Tori finally has things “figured out”.

Tori is the reason why I continue to do what I do.  She inspires and motivates me every day.  I am proud of her.  Her family is proud of her. This is just the beginning.