The front page of the May 11 edition of the Tribune featured both “Celebrating Mothers” and “Child molester gets six-year prison term” — an unintended juxtaposition of what’s best and what’s worst in human nature?
For many of the seven recipients of the Anthony Brucia Success Award on Saturday at the Madera Municipal Golf Course, the mix of what’s awesome with what’s toxic is very real. As one recipient wrote, “There will always be ups and downs but despite the obstacles one must try and that’s what I’m doing and will keep on doing to show my mother that she did an excellent job raising my sisters and me.”
The mom and her daughters, abandoned by an alcoholic husband who soon after died of a heart attack, unwaveringly cared for her five daughters over the years, working hard in the fields and somehow instilling gratitude for the “small things in life.” As stated in her letters of recommendation: “She has grown up in and has attended schools plagued by rural poverty and a general lack of academic encouragement and resources. Nevertheless, she has found success and time to give back to both the local and school communities.”
Mom was not there for another of the award winners. This mom was in denial as the stepfather sexually abused all of her daughters as they entered their pre-teen years. This award winner admitted exhibiting all of the self-abusive behaviors that are evident in children of abuse: poor school attendance, a drop in grades, drinking and self-loathing. When a sixth-grade algebra teacher shared the story of his sister’s abuse she began her turnaround. She developed the courage to tell grandma, who was there to support her with the understanding, compassion and nurturance she had not received from her mom. Thank God for such grandmothers!
This young lady converted her personal tragedy into a passion for advocacy. In partnership with the Family Crisis Center, she founded TEAR (Teens Ending Abusive Relationships) on her high school campus to promote awareness and education on sexual and emotional abuse and bullying, in order help prevent domestic violence. As this young lady’s counselor put it, “She serves as a shining example of how you can overcome adversity and achieve your goals, showing us the possibility of hope and happiness that is within everyone’s reach.”
The personal histories of the other five young women are similarly touching and inspirational. Without doubt, these young people deserve recognition and support. That is why the California Association of Supervisors of Child Welfare and Attendance (CASCWA) met at the golf course on Saturday – as it has done for the past 7 years.
CASCWA’s mission is to find and support young people who have faced significant personal or family trials. They have been burdened by circumstances that many do not survive. Yet, they have not only survived, they have triumphed. CASCWA has been privileged to know hundreds of young people who have proven themselves amazingly resilient and inspirational!
I’m sure all the young women given Anthony Brucia Success Awards on Saturday will make great mothers when it is their turn, either by reflecting the wonderful mothers who stood steadfast through nearly insuperable trials or by becoming, despite the odds, the kind of mothers their mothers were not.
J. Galen Wright,