Ashley Discovers It Takes A Team
“Ashley* has had a lot of ‘moms’ and ‘dads’ in and out of her life. To now have hope and excitement is a big deal for her,” said Jill Hamlin, Program Director of Sunrise’s Morehead Center. While Ashley’s journey with Sunrise begins at Morehead Center, it doesn’t end there. She is now receiving care and support from two Sunrise therapeutic residential programs, as well as the Sunrise Foster Care team. Even therapy dog Abel has played an important role in her progress and success. This is her story.
Ashley arrived at Morehead last year after being arrested at school. She was taken to the courthouse and sent to the Department of Juvenile Justice. Ashley clearly remembers her day in court. “They wanted me in foster care, but there was no place for me,” she shared. “I felt that people didn’t want me because of my actions. But it turns out I was wrong,” she said with a smile.
That same day, she was taken to Morehead Center. It would be a big adjustment. “That first day I was upset, and I was crying. It was a bad night,” Ashley recounted. “I felt like I was getting punished. But after a month of living here, I realized I was getting treatment.”
The treatment Ashley has received at Morehead Center has been life-changing. “They’ve helped me build trust, and they’ve helped me stay safe,” said Ashley. “Before I came here, I really didn’t feel safe.”
Ashley went on to say that because of the Sunrise team at Morehead Center, she is the person she is today. “I’m happier. I used to call myself ugly. But now I think I’m beautiful. And I am more assertive than I used to be. I used to be really passive,” Ashley said. “I’m a unique person. I’ve become more creative, and I can draw. And I love to sing. I can sing very well!”
She has also received some extra attention from a Goldendoodle named Abel – Morehead Center’s resident therapy dog. “He’s a great dog. I love him,” expressed Ashley. “Whenever I’m crying, he’ll sit in my lap. And he’ll lick my face. He’s just a very good therapy dog.”
The two have entered into a special bond, with Ashley becoming Abel’s trainer. In fact, Ashley has recently earned the “Novice” title from the American Kennel Club in working with Abel, and is currently working on her “Intermediate” title.
But it hasn’t just been the Sunrise team from Morehead that has been a part of Ashley’s healing process. Eventually, Ashley would share of severe abuse she suffered from her father. “He was my adoptive dad, and he is also my biological uncle,” explained Ashley. The abuse began when she was 12 and continued until she was 14. Her parents would eventually divorce, and the abuse finally stopped.
Once the Morehead team learned of the nature of Ashley’s abuse, they realized that the trauma she suffered required specialized treatment that Morehead Center didn’t offer. But Sunrise’s Crossroads Treatment Center in Elizabethtown did.
So treatment was arranged with the therapist from Crossroads while Ashley remained at Morehead. “I think it has really helped me a lot,” said Ashley. “I feel better than when I first came here.”
Because of her success at Morehead, Ashley is now thinking of her future. She has plans to go to college and is interested in either becoming a nurse, a therapist, or a vet tech. “If you notice, in all of those options, it’s about helping someone,” Ashley explained. “I really like helping people.”
Her plans also include a foster family. And that’s where the Sunrise Foster Care team comes into the story. Ashley has already been matched up with a family and has had several visits. It has been a very positive experience. “They love me. They don’t judge me,” Ashley said. “They are just a big loving family. I have people to look up to and a support system.”
According to Jill Hamlin, the entire Sunrise team will remain a support system for Ashley. “Sunrise Morehead Center is not a stopping point,” said Jill. “If we take in a young lady, we are invested in that lady.”
Ashley understands Sunrise’s investment. And she appreciates it. “Sunrise is a great place to be,” Ashley said. “And I really like it.”
When you support Sunrise, you are also investing in the lives of young people like Ashley. Thank you for your continued support and prayers. Thank you for being a part of Team Sunrise.
*Name changed to protect the identity of the individual.
Written by David Lyninger, Sunrise Children’s Services Associate Director of Communications