Letters

Letters 12-05-2016

Trump going back on promises I’m beginning to suspect that we’ve been conned by our new president. He’s backpedaling on nearly every campaign promise he made to us...

This Christmas, think before you speak Now that Trump has won the election, a lot of folks who call themselves Christians seem to believe they have a mandate to force their beliefs on the rest of us. Think about doing this before you start yelling about people saying “happy holidays,” whining about Starbucks coffee cup image(s), complaining about other’s lifestyles…

First Amendment protects prayer (Re: Atheist Gary Singer’s contribution to the Crossed column titled “What will it take to make America great again?” in the Nov. 21 edition of Northern Express.) Mr. Singer, the First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”

Evidence of global warming Two basic facts underlay climate science: first, carbon dioxide was known to be a heat-trapping gas as early as 1850; and second, humans are significantly increasing the amount of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels and other activities. We are in fact well on our way to doubling the CO2 concentrations in our atmosphere...

Other community backpack programs I just read your article in the Nov. 28 issue titled “Beneficial backpacks: Two local programs help children.” It is a good article, but there are at least two other such programs in the Traverse City area that I am aware of...

A ‘fox’ in the schoolhouse Trump’s proposed secretary of education, Betsy DeVos (“the fox” in Dutch), is a right-wing billionaire; relentless promoter of unlimited, unregulated charter schools and vouchers; and enemy of public schooling...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Turning the tables
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Turning the tables

Erin Crowell - May 10th, 2010
Turning the Tables: A foster care success story
By Erin Crowell
“It was a long two years,” Brittany Denzel says of her time earning cosmetology certification at Traverse City Beauty College. As the sole graduate on May 5, the 21-year-old Denzel donned a pink tiara and colorful eye shadow – a runway themed graduation that matched her outlook on life.
You could say the bubbly, outgoing young woman has been struttin’ her stuff. While many young adults face challenges after being discharged from the foster care system, Denzel has thrived. She will share her success story with audiences at the 9th Annual Festival of Tables, a fundraising event for Child and Family Services of Northwestern Michigan, held May 14 & 15 at the Hagerty Center in Traverse City.

A CHANGE IN LANDSCAPE
Denzel entered the foster care system at the age of 14. She and her brothers, ages three and nine, were in an “unstable living situation,” as Denzel puts it. They were placed in an emergency care home.
“Child and Family Services said we couldn’t stay there long and I didn’t like that,” says Denzel. “The family had four biological daughters. I grew really close to them.”
Just days after moving into their first foster home, the three siblings were sent to live with David and Lynette Schneider of Brethren.
“I like being outdoors; and living in the country, that’s been my dream. We had horses and a river and a pond. You got to have time to yourself. It wasn’t a go, go place,” Denzel recalls.
It was a change in landscape; but Denzel said the adults in her life changed just as quickly.
“I would get really close to a case worker and then, all of a sudden, they left – which happened a lot,” she says. “You develop trust with your case worker, and I actually had a lot of trust issues with adults for awhile because of that.”
Most of Denzel’s case workers left the agency for different job opportunities, says Family Services’ Echo Dean – the last case worker who followed Denzel through her final months of foster care.
“At first, it was hard for me to open up,” Denzel says of her last case worker. “But I really liked her name. I mean, Echo – how cool is that? We became great friends.”
Dean proved to be one of the consistent elements in Denzel’s life, along with the ever-present support from the Schneider family.
“They really taught me I was better than the standard my biological family had set for me,” Denzel says.

IN THE FAMILY
Denzel won’t be alone when she shares her story at the Festival of Tables – Denzel’s “niece,” seven-year-old Summer will also discuss her experience living with a new family.
Amy Young, Denzel’s foster sister, adopted Summer a few years back.
“I really started getting a heart for foster care when my parents were taking kids in,” says Young.
In January, Young and her husband adopted five foster children under their care, which included Summer, bringing the Young household total to 10.
“One day, Summer wrote a paper in school talking about her experience going into foster care, and she read it in front of the class” says Young. “She talked about how thankful she is, that foster care helps kids find their families. She said ‘The family I was in before didn’t make good choices for me; but God was looking all over the world and found a family that made good choices for me.’ I guess she had all the teachers crying.”
Summer will read her paper at the Festival of Tables.

STICKING WITH IT
While her brothers returned home after just six months in foster care, Denzel decided to stick with it – staying in the system until she was 18.
“It forced me to grow up,” says Denzel. “It was an opportunity to mature and be a different person.”
Denzel proved her maturity through her many aspirations, which included graduating from Brethren High School and attending Teen Mania Ministries, located in Garden Valley, Texas where she went on mission trips.
“When I met Brittany, she was already a senior in high school,” says Dean. “By that point, she already had an idea of what her goals were.”
“She has had support from her foster parents and always will, whether it’s on paper or in their hearts,” Dean says.
Today, Denzel is self-sufficient, working two jobs – including a position as a direct care worker at Pete’s Place, a Traverse City homeless shelter for teens.
Denzel also now lives with her two brothers and biological mother.
“The relationship with my mom is a total 180,” says Denzel. “I guess we learned how to talk to each other. Before, there was just screaming, now we’re such good friends, we talk about everything.”

The Festival of Tables will be held May 14 & 15 at the Hagerty Center, in Traverse City. The event features a variety of table displays, some of which are up for auction and raffle. Proceeds benefit Child and Family Services of Northwestern Michigan. Friday includes the Gala Preview and the (Not) Just for Men Tent, 6 p.m.; Saturday is the Ladies Luncheon, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. More information is available at festivaloftables.org.


 
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