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Lisa is the third child of seven and comes from a broken home that was filled with abuse and drugs. Lisa's father left the family when her youngest siblings were babies. Lisa's father became heavily addicted to crack, and the drug addiction soon took over his life. Lisa's mother, free from this abusive man, soon turned to drugs after their separation. In the process, she began to lose everything - her home, her children, and her self-worth. Lisa's mom was in and out of jail for several years, during which time Lisa was left to raise herself. She came and went as she pleased and rarely attended school. Searching for a sense of belonging, Lisa began to hang out with the wrong crowd. She experimented with drugs and, before long, was a part of the juvenile justice system and spent one year in TYC.

While in Southwest Key’s Community-Based Program, Lisa has been able to enjoy some of the things she missed out on while growing up as a child. She has gone to the zoo, the theater and local museums. All the while, Lisa has worked hard to complete over fifty hours of community service. She has managed to hold down a job and stay focused on completing her probation requirements. Lisa did have several break downs during this program where she was ready to give up. However, during our many group counseling sessions, Lisa has been able to process her feelings and realize that she is not alone anymore. In March Lisa turned 17 years old and her Southwest Key family was able to celebrate her birthday with her. Without this simple celebration, Lisa would have spent yet another birthday alone with strangers.

In July Lisa successfully completed probation ahead of schedule and even proved to the family court judge that she was responsible enough to become emancipated. Two weeks after her emancipation, Lisa attended a national youth conference with Southwest Key staff in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. This marked the first time Lisa ever traveled by airplane - she was in amazement the entire trip. At the conference, Lisa met teens from all over the United States, including some youth from as far away as Alaska. Now back home, Lisa has returned to her full-time job and is preparing to start college in the spring. She, along with another Southwest Key female graduate will be coordinating a community-wide campaign to bring awareness to the issue of teen victimization and became a voice for those trapped by the systems that have been put in place to help them. Lisa is truly one of Southwest Key's success stories!