Dashandra

My life began August 30, 1993 in Waxahachie, Texas.

I lived mostly with my mother and her friends. When I was 10 I watched one of my mom’s friends molest my sister and I thought it was my fault for not stopping the man.

Later my mom went to prison and my sister, Destinee and brother Cedric moved in with our grandmother.  She tried so hard to take care of us while working 2 jobs. One at Midlothian High School as custodian and the Senior Center at nights as custodian.

She would try on Sunday’s to watch TV with us and that is where I learned my love for the Dallas Cowboys and so much about football. Alex says I could be a coach if they would let women coach.  My life was “good” for me and my siblings until one day when our grandmother did not come home from work to drive us to school. My sister was in 9th grade at that time and could walk to school so she did.  Later in the day they called her to the principal’s office and our Dad and his grandmother were there with the principal and counselor. They told her that our grandmother died that morning at the school while working. The arrangements were for us to go live with our Dad and his grandmother in Waxahachie and go to school there as well.

That was hard for us since our mother had always told us our Dad was bad and we were made to be scared of him.

We did go live with him and my sister and I did really bad in school and were on suspension and kicked out of the school by the end of the year.

In the mean time our mother got out of prison and wanted us to live with her and her boyfriend. This worked while they lived in Midlothian, but she wanted to move away from Midlothian so she left us alone in an apartment in Midlothian the summer of 2009.

We started the school year 09-10 with me a Junior and Destinne a Senior.

We rode the bus to school each day. Our Aunt lived in the same apartment complex and would drive us to the store to buy food and school supplies. At first my mom gave us food stamps, but stopped after one month. She then stopped paying the rent and electricity for the apartment. In September the electricity was turned off and in October we came home from school and there was an eviction notice on our apartment door.

Our counselor had recommend us for the Mentoring program, but our mother did not sign the form. I later told my counselor about our living situation and she had Mrs. Petty contact us again about the mentoring program. The school then found out that our father lived in Waxahachie and he gave his permission for us to participate.

During this time Dena was sharing with her Bible Study class at FBC Midlothian the stories of several students and Alex and Ann Hollub heard about us and said they could help with some furniture and electric bills, and maybe more if they could meet us. They said they would pray about us and planned to meet Destinee and I with Dena to go shopping the next day.

The next day, Monday, we did go shopping and we were so scared of Ann’s excitement that we didn’t say anything much.  Ann was so sad we didn’t have any dinner she took us home with her for dinner. She first took Destine to buy supplies for her Biology project and Alex helped her complete the project for class the next day. On Tuesday Ann picked us up from school and we had a cook out at their house with their daughter Laura who was also a Senior in High School. My sister and I had not cooked hot dogs over a real fire before or made smore’s and we even played a game called “Apples to Apples”. What a great experience. Laura was having surgery the next day so Ann could not have us for dinner so she sent us home with 2 military meals each that heated on their own so we could have something to eat. By Friday Ann took us to the Child Protective Office  and they said we could stay with them if we wanted to.

We lived with Alex and Ann for the remainder of the school year.

I learned many things about life living with Alex and Ann such as completing our school work, washing clothes, how to swim, how to cook meals. The Hollub’s gave us the opportunity to see our Dad more frequently and we developed a healthy relationship with him.

I loved having dinner with everyone each night and talking with each person in the family.

Ann and Alex gave us chores in the family and had expectations for each of us. The expectations gave me the confidence that I could accomplish something. We went to Laura’s basketball games and out to eat with her friends and other families. Ann began the process of teaching us to drive which I did not think we could ever do.

My sister and I made better grades this year and learned about working for what we have.

At the end of school year Ann helped me meet with my counselor to plan for my Senior year and suggested I take the work study class and this turned out to be the way I got a job at McDonald’s in Midlothian and have kept this job for 3 1/2 years at this time.

When my sister graduated we wanted to live on our own so Ann and Alex helped my sister and I get an apartment. They set us up with furniture, cooking utensils and helped us form a budget to live on while they continued to help us financially and meet with us 3 times a week to check our grades and see how we were doing. The school year began in August 2010 and in October I finally found a job at McDonald’s.

My sister then began to do things that she was not able to keep her job and she lost the car Alex and Ann had given to us. She would not let Ann or Alex come in our apartment and not allow Ann to continue to teach me to drive. We could not make things on our own but she did not want the Hollub’s to help us anymore. Things got so bad that I called Ann in August 2011 late one night scared that my sister and mother were coming to get me. Alex and Ann came immediately and asked me to move back with them and to start college.

Ann helped me register and start at Navarro to work toward an Associates Degree in Business.

I completed my first year at the Midlothian campus while living with Alex and Ann.

At the same time I continued to work at McDonald’s and was promoted to crew trainer, then to shift manager.

At the end of the school year I told Ann my “Bucket List” and one thing was to live in a dorm so we worked to have this happen and I moved to the Navarro , Corsicana campus August 2012. I worked very hard learning different relationships with roommates and continued weekend work at McDonald’s and a campus office job M – F.

I graduated with my Associates in May 2013.

During the past school year I had had more contact with my older brother, Cedric, and he wanted to help me continue my education since he had graduated with his Bachelor’s by this time and had a good job.

I met with Ann again in June 2013 and we came up with a new financial  and educational plan and registered at Tarelton University at the Midlothian Higher Education Center and I am currently working towards my Bachelor’s in Business Management.

My managers at McDonald’s continue to help me grow and I’m working on the track for Manager certification which will actually give me college credit. My goal is to graduate from Tarelton in May 2015.

I have learned many things during my journey such as working hard does pay off and  keeping my family relationships in perspective. I don’t want to end up like my Mom and I use her as an example of what not to do.

Maybe the most important thing I have learned is…

“Life can be hard, but being cautious about who I can trust to follow their advice, while still being nice to everyone, but not have to follow everything they tell me to do.”