Success Stories


A Brighter Community Alumni 2006 - 2007

Zelicia’s Story

Zelicia’s life has been filled with many changes and a lot of sadness, but the heart of this little girl is filled with a lot of strength and resiliency. Her Great Aunt enrolled her in A Brighter Community’s (ABC) Voluntary Pre-K Program in August of 2006. Zelicia had been in her Great Aunt’s custody for several years because both of her parent’s parental rights had been terminated because of abuse.  However, as the year progressed the staff of ABC began to have concerns about the welfare of Zelicia. The Great Aunt would arrive late to pick her up or would not arrive at all, she would often appear to be inebriated and according to family members she would disappear for days at a time. In early December of 2006 ABC felt it was time to make a report of abuse/neglect. The Abuse Hotline accepted the report and an investigator came to ABC that very same day. He met with the teaching staff, the Director and Zelicia’s cousin, who had been caring for her in the absence of her Great Aunt. Based on the findings of the investigations, Zelicia was removed from her Great Aunt’s care and was place in the care of her cousin.  During the Christmas holidays, ABC received a phone call from Zelicia’s cousin informing the school that Zelicia’s Great Aunt had committed suicide. For Zelicia this was another loss, another change, and another let down. Everyone at ABC worked very closely with Zelicia and her cousin to help them through this hard time. ABC’s Family Support Program helped Zelicia’s cousin receive financial assistance to help purchase clothes and food for Zelicia.  Zelicia also started receiving services at Hospice for the loss of her Great Aunt and services at Mental Health Care for counseling because she started to exhibit some challenging behaviors. Sadly, however, even with all of the support Zelicia’s cousin found her too difficult to manage and she reported that she could no longer care for her.

ABC knew a potential foster mother who might take Zelicia.  Through much advocacy and hard work Zelicia was successfully placed with this foster mother.  Zelicia was able to maintain her school placement at ABC for the full school year and graduate with her peer group that she had bonded with and had made friends. With the love and stability of the foster parent the challenging behaviors that she was displaying begun to significantly decrease and she began to thrive.   

Zelicia was one of the first children to enroll in the 2008 United Way Summer Camp at ABC. To her, A Brighter Community was a home away from home. She was able to return to a place that was familiar, with friends and teachers that were familiar to her. For a child who had been through so many changes and transitions in her life, this school age summer program was just what she needed.

Toward the end of the summer, one of her foster sister’s was placed in a permanent home.  This change was hard on Zelicia as she couldn’t understand why she had not found her “forever” family. The staff of ABC saw the difficulty that Zelicia was experiencing and suggested that Zelicia start to participate in the play therapy program that was available to the students at ABC. Her foster mother agreed and Zelicia now had a safe and developmentally appropriate environment to “work through” her feelings of loss, abandonment and her insecurity over not having the family that she wanted.

During the 2008 school year Zelicia continued to maintain a happy disposition in the light of more rejection and loss. In September 2008 Zelicia was matched with a family, she completed her weekend visits and on the day that she was to permanently move in with this family they called and said they did not feel like it was a good fit.  Zelicia appeared to handle this loss in stride and through the nurturing of her foster mother and her continued “work” in play therapy this young girl continued to remain positive about one day finding her family.

The optimism paid off during the holidays 2008, Zelicia’s family finally found her. A couple from Arizona found Zelicia on the Heart Gallery, fell in love and they immediately started the adoption process. By Christmas 2008 Zelicia was with her “forever family”. Her new Mom and Dad made several visits to Tampa to visit with Zelicia and to meet the people who had helped to support her through several hard years. The staff of ABC and her foster mother could not have been happier over this perfect match for Zelicia.

Zelicia is one happy, quick witted little girl. All of us at ABC love the updates and photos that her Mom sends out from time to time. The photo included here is of Zelicia and her new brother, Christopher, who was also adopted from here in Tampa. The smile says it all.