How one resident’s story can inspire a community

A look-in at Vista’s critical services.

When someone asks about Vista Del Mar, specifically what services we provide, instead of rattling off a bunch of clinical terms, I’ve found the most impactful answer is the one that describes who we help and how. The individual stories of our residents are what brings to life the critical services we provide. This month, members of Vista’s Leadership Advisory Board (LAB) launched a video and fundraising campaign which does just that. The new video titled, “Jackie’s Story” is a brave and inspiring interview with a former Vista resident whose early life of neglect and abuse put her in a hopeless state until she was placed here at Vista at the age of fourteen.

Sadly, Jackie’s difficult journey is not unique to youth who are placed in foster care. Jackie felt unwanted at every foster home before arriving at Vista. Her past experiences of neglect and abuse lead her to believe she didn’t deserve to be loved by anyone, especially not a stranger at yet another group home. To her surprise, upon arrival at Vista she received a warm welcome, and one that despite her skepticism did not fade. Jackie received mental health and therapeutic services as well as attending the Vista school where she soon began building meaningful connections with her peers. It was these initial, positive experiences that lead her to seek out group therapy. Jackie does not gloss over the difficulties of the therapeutic process nor her doubts that she could ever be truly cared for. In fact, the part of the interview that really broke me and brought me to tears was her sharing that the first time she was told she was loved came not from her Mom but from a Vista staff member.

Jackie’s story has had a major impact not only internally but throughout our Los Angeles community. As I mentioned, this video was created in part to raise funding for the critical mental health services like the ones that turned around Jackie’s life. LAB members have been instrumental in sharing this compelling piece and describing their own experiences with Vista Kids. In turn, the campaign has raised awareness of kids like Jackie who against every difficult circumstance have come out on the other side feeling loved and empowered. To that, we credit the unwavering love of our staff. This is what we do, and this is who we help.