Name: Heather Troeckler
Current Residence: Louisville, Kentucky
Profession: I will be pursuing my Master’s Degree at U of L in Social Work in the Spring of 2014.
When were you at Maryhurst?
In the 1990’s. Maryhurst, as explained to me at this time, was a home for young girls who had been severely abused and neglected. I could definitely be defined by those words. I grew up very quickly. By the age of 10, I knew how to cook, clean, and do other things that young girls my age did not have to worry about until they are much older. My biological mother was a victim of severe spousal abuse; and my brother and I were victims of abuse too. When I was young I always thought, could my life get any worse? When I was 10 or 11, my biological father gained full custody of my brother and I. That was the first time I knew what hunger was. My father didn’t feed us, and we suffered for the 6 months we were with him until the authorities were notified by a neighbor. My biological father’s rights were terminated when I was 12. When I went back with my mom, we did not have much but we had food. The series of misfit husbands started and so did the abuse, both physical and sexual. I started acting out and that began my series of placements in different homes. The mental institutions would not keep me because I did not need long term care just counseling. At many of the foster homes that I went to I felt like a second class citizen and was immensely embarrassed when I went places and was classified as “one of the foster girls”. I knew enough to understand how I was being treated. Then, one day, my social worker called to tell me she has a special place for me and she wanted me to go there. I was 16 at the time. That is how Maryhurst came into my life.
What programs were you in (campus, foster care, independent living, etc.)? I was first placed in the Flaget dorm on campus, and eventually went to independent living.
How did Maryhurst help you? My social worker was telling me about Maryhurst and I was thinking, “Yeah, I bet.” But, when I got there, Maryhurst was a whole knew world. Everywhere I went there were girls who were just like me. No one person was different. We were all treated the same. Maryhurst took me to the dentist, and help me get my teeth fixed. All my life, I had never been able to buy clothes except the little my mom could afford. When I went to Maryhurst, they bought me clothes and I am not talking a few outfits, they bought me many, many, outfits from the mall. I just knew they wanted my state money to pay it back, but no, every month I still got my money! My childhood was so unstable that I was extremely far behind in school, so I had to go to a special school. Maryhurst let me ride the TARC bus from campus to school and back. They trusted me. I never had anyone just give me trust. Maryhurst did and they did not want anything from me in return. I just knew there was going to be a catch someday, but there never was. I did not understand that there were people who just wanted to give to girls like me and did not want anything in return. Maryhurst let me go visit with my mother every other weekend and I could have gone home. But, I did not want this. My needs for the first time in my life were important. Every milestone in my life was important to Maryhurst. I had a job, a stable place, and wonderful people to support and take care of me. I stayed until a few months before my 18th birthday. Maryhurst did not care if I had money, if I was skinny, if I had perfect teeth or nice clothes; they cared for me because I was a teenage girl who had no one else. They helped me get the counseling that I needed and helped me become efficacious in society. Maryhurst did not listen to the words that were in my “state file”; they gave me a chance to succeed.
What is your life like now (job, family, school, etc)?
I have two ambitious teenagers ages 14, and 13. My children both attend Micah Christian School in Bullitt County Kentucky. My philosophy when teaching my children about life is that education is the key out of poverty, and if not in poverty it is the key to staying out of poverty. My daughter is in high school and my son will son be following her there. My daughter is planning a career in forensic pathology and has the math skills that will behoove her in that field, and my son is pursuing a career as a police officer and has the motivation to become a great community advocate. Unfortunately, my daughter suffered a stroke in June 2013 by an idiopathic blood clot to the brain. The recovery has been slow but steady. I resigned from my job to care for her during her rehabilitation.
Is there anything you’d like to say to Maryhurst?
Maryhurst continues to support me even now in my mid 30’s. I receive scholarship funds that will help me achieve my Master’s degree in 2016. Maryhurst was and is much more than just a home for girls. Maryhurst gave me stability. I never knew what living somewhere felt like, because I lived out of suitcases. Maryhurst believed in me when no one else did. I unpacked the few bags I had because they were not going to give up on me. Maryhurst is a place full of believers for each and every teenage girl.
Heather was featured in the September 2013 issue of “Today’s Woman.” You can read it here, http://issuu.com/todayswoman.com/docs/twseptember2013/54