When advocate Julie Gremillion first read about Cory*, she remembered feeling overwhelmed. Thirteen-year-old Cory had no family relationships and had been in eight different foster placements in a short eighteen months. Though his needs and behavioral issues seemed extensive, Julie saw beyond what was on paper. She knew she needed to ensure he didn't get lost in a complicated system.
Julie hit the ground running in her work with Cory. Though none of Cory's family had previously been located, Julie was able to track down a maternal great aunt and a cousin through our Collaborative Family Engagement program. Now, Cory has relatives with which he can build a relationship, providing a sense of grounding to him. Julie and her advocacy coordinator, Joy Reading, were even able to locate Cory's father in prison who has been able to exchange letters with his son. Because of Julie, Cory now has three family members with who he could begin to build a relationship.
Julie did not stop there. Cory's mom had previously passed away and she knew he needed help processing such a deep loss. She pushed for special grief counseling to be provided for Cory and got him into a foster care clinic where all of his services could be provided by specialized experts. This ensured that Cory's care would remain consistent and not change with every placement.
Now, because of Julie's advocacy, Cory lives in a smaller Residential Treatment Center, more tailored to his needs, and Julie says he has begun to "turn a corner". Today, he wants to get a job and join ROTC. "We are finally seeing some great progress!" Julie reported.
Beyond being an incredible advocate to Cory over the last two years, Joy Reading described Julie as a "mentor" and "mother figure" to him as well. She has also become his educational surrogate and has stepped in to coordinate all of his medical care at the request of the hospital. Julie even recorded her voice walking through mindfulness and calming techniques so Cory can listen to it when he becomes upset. Julie has truly gone above and beyond in her work with Cory and is making an incredible and tangible difference in his life. When others may have shied away, Julie stepped up to stand in the gap in Cory's life, and we are so grateful.
Julie's amazing dedication to Cory makes her a more than deserving recipient of our October "Volunteer of the Month" award. Congratulations, Julie, and thank you for all you have done for Houston's littlest victims.
To learn how you can become a volunteer and make an impact like Julie, click here.
*Names were changed to protect the privacy of the parties involved.