Stories

Connecting with Compassion

As Regional Case Consultant, LaRhomica works hard to find foster homes and forever homes for children for whom the state has full guardianship. Her professional experience and grit guides her ability to place children safe and protective environments, but it is LaRhomica’s personal connection with foster care that helps her understanding of and rapport with the children teens she serves.

LaRhomica bounced around to foster homes and relatives most of her life, and at one point in her journey, she landed in the foster home of an elementary teacher who enrolled her at Bellevue Middle School. While a student at Bellevue, she remembered her inclusion in World of Work, a program of Porter-Leath that helped teens gain experience in the workplace by connecting them with local businesses who were willing to mentor and steward the student. The program gave her some spending money and helped her build basic business skills.

Later LaRhomica ran away from foster care and found herself in the care of Porter-Leath. She was housed in both the historic Porter-Leath building and also at Sara’s Place on Manassas. Unlike some juvenile centers at the time, LaRhomica remembered that Porter-Leath would take residents for field trips and errands. After being housed the Sara’s place, LaRhomica decided that she wanted to change the direction in which her life was headed. “I thought- you know, I don’t want to keep running away. I don’t want to end up in a facility with other girls. So I ended up returning to foster care and stayed there.”

LaRhomica said seeing her family stuck in the same spot drove her build a better life for herself. Now, she has a degree in Social Work and finds herself working alongside Porter-Leath staff to find supportive homes. Many of the teens she works with are surprised that LaRhomica was in foster care just like them! LaRhomica consistently encourages foster care children to work hard and envision a life that is different than the one from which they came. She adds, “My key piece of advice to them is this - use where you are, to get to where you want to be in life. Your (biological) family will always be your family, but if there is someone out there willing to love you – let them.”

LaRhomica learned to use her experience in foster care as a way to refine her instead of define her.
“I made a promise to myself that my kids would not have to see or go through what I did as a child . . . the things that were there to break me, I just decided to use them as stepping stones.” And she is willing to help others see their own stepping stones by continuing to help those who have aged out of the foster care system

“I am thankful for the things that I’ve been through in life,” LaRhomica explained, “because it makes me appreciate where I am now, and I try to be the best mother I can, while helping others.”

Interested in learning how you can foster love by providing a home for a child in need? Our Connections staff would love to meet you! Please contact Lisa Arnold at 901-577-2500 x 1179.

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