Foster care is something Shambria understands well. Her mother started taking foster children into their home during Shambria’s senior year, and she saw their need for connection and consistency firsthand. That ultimately brought her to Friends of the Children in 2014.
Shambria has been a Friend to 14 -year-old Ruby for seven years. Early in their relationship, Ruby was coming out of foster care and Shambria helped reconnect Ruby with her mother. Ruby’s mother is a single parent raising 11 children, and she also experienced foster care as a child.
Three years ago, at the peak of COVID, Shambria got a late-night call from Ruby’s mother that the family was in danger of becoming homeless. After the unexpected passing of Ruby’s grandfather, they had moved into a hotel, but couldn’t stay. On top of all this, a hurricane was barreling toward Florida.
Shambria went into action and contacted an organization that helped Ruby and her family get emergency assistance, including two back-to-back rooms in a shelter. She also worked with the organization to get Ruby’s mother a case manager, a job, and ultimately a housing voucher so that they could move into their own home months later.
“Ruby handled all this transition flawlessly,” says Shambria. “Better than I think I could. Her strength gave me space to help her mother, which impacted the entire family.”
Shambria worked with Ruby every week, and with Ruby’s mother to ensure the family stayed s out of the system. They have gained stability, and it looks like they will be getting a donated car soon, which will be a big help for the family.
Shambria marvels at the strength of the children she mentors: “They have experienced so much trauma at such a very young age, and they work so hard to move through it,” she says. “When I think of Ruby’s future, I just want her to be the best person she can possibly be. Whatever gems she takes from me, I want her to thrive and live the healthiest life she can.