“Before Gatewood, the foster home that I lived in was not at all glorious!”
My name is Tiffany and I came into foster care when I was 16 years old. During that time the transition was hard as I was separated from my sisters without knowing when I would be able to see them again. It was very challenging to be around people I did not know and not having my family there, especially my sisters. As I grew I tried to learn from my mistakes and to strengthen myself during these difficult times. Before Gatewood, the foster home that I lived in was not at all glorious. I didn’t have the chance to participate in activities with kids my age. Instead I spent the majority of my time in-doors living with people who took advantage of me mentally and financially. This was very hard to deal with not knowing that I could trust anyone.
When I turned 18, I was appointed a new social worker who then introduced me to Kiva and Tony Gatewood who had just began to start an Independent Living Program. I was excited and hesitant at the same time as again this was yet another transition. I had never lived on my own before, therefore I had a lot to learn. Kiva and Tony Gatewood made the transition easy. They ensured I had someone every step of the way. Whenever I had questions there was always someone there to assist me. While in the Independent Living Program I learned to utilize the resources within the community to get where I needed to go. I learned to pay my bills on time, I became a Certified Nursing Assistant, and starting work at VCU. Since I did not have a car at the time I learned how to use public transportation to get to and from school and work instead. I learned to budget my money and had a savings account.
At the age of 23 I got married and Kiva and Tony Gatewood were still there to support me every step of the way. In 2016 my first child was born, healthy and thriving. I then started my first government job at McGuire Veterans Hospital. In January 2018 I decided I wanted to go back to school to pursue a Registered Nursing degree. Recently I was inducted into the Nursing Honor Society for maintaining a B or higher in all courses. I will be a Certified Registered Nurse in August 2019. I thank Kiva and Tony Gatewood for developing such an incredible program that enabled me to become the strong woman I am today!