After this story went to print, our student, Andrea, was shot. See update to this story below.
Andrea lost her mother to cancer when she was 11 months old and her father was in and out of jail growing up. She was raised by her grandmother and currently is under her brother’s custody. And now, 17-year old Andrea finds herself in custody court because her brother wants to pass off his guardianship.
“Who else would be willing to accept guardianship?” was the question Andrea found herself faced with in custody court this December. Not certain how to respond in court, Andrea was relieved to know her GRIP mentor, Kelsey, was right by her side to support her and be a voice when she didn’t have the words to express. “She is very helpful, honest, and always there for me. She’s here through all the hard times and I love her for that,” Andrea says.
Overwhelmed with emotions, Andrea and Kelsey were able to speak with the judge alone and share Andrea’s thoughts for the judge to consider. “I’m so glad Kelsey was there with me, because she was able to defend me and help me to talk to the judge,” shared Andrea.
At GRIP Outreach For Youth our mission is to break the fatherless cycle through Christ-centered, Life-on-Life relationships. And as part of entering into the lives of our youth we encourage our mentors to visit their youth at home, meet their families and get to know them holistically–to better come alongside the family and strengthen and deepen the relationship. Over this experience Kelsey has been able to engage with Andrea’s brother and even helped Andrea take steps towards her aunt accepting guardianship.
“Having Kelsey in my life makes me know someone cares,” Andrea shares.
Each week Kelsey has gotten into the practice of blocking off her Sunday afternoons to take Andrea and another young lady, Deonna, to church and then lunch. And when Andrea isn’t working, Kelsey has started to teach Andrea how to drive, which Kelsey shares “is terrifying.” She reflects, “I couldn’t do something like this, if I didn’t have Christ… Andrea’s needs are so much more important than the unease that I’m feeling or the fear that I’m feeling. It’s just motivating to know that this is going to be hard, but she needs this. God has put me here for this reason.”
Those reasons continue to become clear to Kelsey as her mentee, Andrea, was shot in January, making her one of the 587 shooting victims so far this year. By God’s grace Andrea’s life was spared, and she is on a road to full recovery. After undergoing multiple surgeries, including one on her kidneys, she is grateful to have her mentor Kelsey by her side through this entire trial.
Andrea was released from the hospital recently, and is continuing to attend church with Kelsey each week. Pray that this circumstance would be used in Andrea’s life to draw her closer to the Lord, and a deeper Life-on-Life relationship with her mentor, Kelsey would continue to be formed.