I always wondered what my mission in life was, then 12 years ago I found my mission and passion when I started working as a Youth Care Specialist for the NWACS. Today, I still feel the same. I am passionate about my work with the most vulnerable of children. My favorite part about my job is when a child finally decides to trust me enough and feels comfortable enough to share some of their experiences with me. Sometimes this never happens, but when it does, I feel like this is a defining moment and my window of opportunity to try to listen to some very traumatic things that this child has gone through and I feel it gives me just a small insight of what the child has endured. This is my chance to try to make a positive impact on the child and through compassion and empathy do my very best to make a child’s stay at NWACS a positive experience where they feel safe and loved. When you gain a child’s trust and they smile when they see you coming, it is one of the best feelings in the world. One of my favorite moments, among many was when I had the opportunity to work with a beautiful little five year old girl, who had come from a very traumatic and abusive home. This child had absolutely no trust of adults and rightfully so, she was filled with anger and rage. We spent many days and hours together when she would scream, kick, bite and scratch when she became upset and would refuse any comforting. Her anger and aggression lasted for weeks, and I was beginning to question myself and wonder what else could I do to help her, when one day I came to work and she was terribly upset again, screaming, scratching, kicking and I thought what more can I do? Finally, I decided to just put my arms around her and pull her to the floor with me and sit and hold her while she fought. I told her I loved her and kept holding her. This went on for probably 30 minutes and finally she began to settle down and relax a little and eventually I was able to cradle her while she broke down and just cried – we both cried, actually. This was the moment I had been waiting for! The rest of her stay, I was able to gain her trust and day by day she blossomed. Over the next month she made such amazing progress. When she left we both cried and were very emotional. I will never forget her, she made a lasting beautiful imprint on my life. NWACS has been the temporary home of many children over the years and has been a place of safety and love for many children. The staff that work at NWACS are truly committed to these children and do everything in their power to make their stay here happy and give them a feeling of safety and love, from the Shelter on-site school to all the many activities the kids get to participate in, from swimming, skating, zoo, nature park outings, going out to eat, maybe for some the very first time to do any of these activities. We also have great volunteers who give of their time, from providing a Spa night for our girls and fishing trips for all and so much more. NWACS is truly a safe haven for children that have come from severe abuse and neglect, and I feel so fortunate to have been a part of this organization for 12 years. I definitely found by mission in life!