Erika was 12 years old when she and her mother, Stacy, first came to Family Service & Guidance Center. The death of her grandfather and her parents’ divorce caused dramatic changes in her.
“I wore dark, baggy clothes,” Erika remembers. “I always wore a hat with my hair over my face, trying to protect myself, trying to hide who I really was and what I look like. I wasn’t positive about anything in life. I was in a horrible state.”
Her mother, Tracy, said, “The atmosphere at home was chaotic – walking on eggshells. We were afraid to talk to her, afraid to touch her. She would hit people. She would slam things, she would break things. She would hurt herself.”
Erika attended her first FSGC Art Night when she was 14 and things began to change.
She started looking forward to Art Nights and attended as many as she could. They provided an outlet for her sadness and anger. She became more open and engaged in her therapy appointments.
Erika was selected to be one of the Featured Artists at FSGC’s 2010 Works of Heart Event. Featured Artists attend the semi-formal event and get to watch their pieces auctioned off to the highest bidder. Erika’s piece sold for $300 and an artist was born. The hat came off, the baggy clothes went away and a smile returned to her face. She was selected to be a Featured Artist two more times over the next three years.
“That changed who I am. I went from being a bully to helping people who were being bullied. I went from being negative to being positive,” Erika said.
At school, Erika progressed from near-failure to graduating from high school this past spring with several sets of honor cords over her shoulders. And she’s not done: Erika is a 19-year-old freshman at Wichita State University, studying acting, art and music.
“My life without FSGC would probably be a black hole. I don’t know where I’d be. I could be out on the streets. (FSGC) changed everything. I don’t know what I’d have done without FSGC.”