Sometimes people can find that life is hard and reaching their goals is a challenge. 19-year-old Bianca, who is a client of UCAN’s Transitional Teen Services and set to graduate high school in June, is not one of those people. Despite her troublesome journey, Bianca has admirably displayed a strong sense of self and determination to achieve her goals.
Bianca grew up the youngest of six girls with her father on the West Side of Chicago. By the time she was 15, she had two sons and was struggling with the pressures of being a parent. “I was at home, miserable and not making enough money to support myself.” Around this time, Bianca’s father made the decision to have Bianca and her children enter the foster care system because he could not take care of them. “It was the push that I needed, because I had kids and I was unbalanced. My mom was never around and my father wasn’t the type of parent who would be there for me and my children.”
After spending nine months in a shelter, Bianca entered the foster care system in 2010 and lived with four foster families over two years. “With each foster parent, they helped build me up. In the beginning it was hard. I had to let go of a lot to enter foster care. I did it though and I’m a better person now.” With each positive foster care experience she was determined to set her life back on track and wound up, by chance, at UCAN’s Transitional Living Program (TLP) site where she currently lives.
Earline King initially helped transport Bianca before having permanent shifts at the TLP site, getting to know Bianca and her sons. “The first year she hadn’t decided what she wanted to do, but then she got focused. Just to see that she is encouraged by the counseling and services at UCAN, and to see the progress from where she was to where she is now is amazing. Even though you see a lot of negative things, it lets you know that you are making a difference.” Earline described Bianca as being a good listener and understanding the importance of asking for and accepting help.
Bianca won’t let anything stand in the way of her or her boys succeeding. With a strong will and positive spirit she tackles the rigors of commuting nearly two hours each way to school and taking care of her two sons. Right outside her bedroom she keeps a board that contains everything she and the boys need to do each day. A loving mother and a dutiful student, Bianca has shown poise and resilience in the light of everything she’s dealt with in her life. She graciously credits UCAN for helping her build a better life, simply saying: “They are here when I need them. UCAN is a family.”