At the end of October 2010, Nicole graduated from our residential program with over 10,000 points in a period of 6 months.  This is just a bit of her graduation speech…

The first time I found out I was going to Sheridan House, I was mortified.  What will they be like?  Will they like me?  Will I get in trouble a lot?  I was filled with questions, but was in total denial that I had ever done anything wrong.  I felt my dad was just over-reacting.  I told him that when I went to Sheridan House, I was going to act out as much as possible. 

Nicole rejoices after hitting the 10,000 point mark.

The moment I walked through the door to enter the program, all my stubbornness went right out behind me.  My house parents and behavior specialist made me feel extremely welcomed.  Of course, like any kid, I was sad when my dad had to leave me there; but I soon learned to follow the program routine and started learning how my choices affect the consequences I received.  I also learned how to dress appropriately, how to give adults the respect they deserve, and how to be trustworthy.  I was doing great at Sheridan House and quickly started racking up points, but was having a hard time applying what I had learned to my home life on the weekends.

Then Mrs. Hafer (behavior specialist) had a heart-to-heart talk with me about being the same person at home that I was at Sheridan House.  From that point on, every weekend I would try to improve on at least one thing at home.   Even though I struggled with this from time to time, the residential team encouraged me to be genuine – to be the “real me” – no matter where I am.  Having a hard time applying it to my weekends and home life set me back a little, but I didn’t let it ruin me.  The last six months here have been an amazing journey and that’s why I am growing and learning to be the person God wants me to be. 

Another wise choice that I’ve made is to stay pure.  After hearing Mrs. Hafer’s group talk on the risks of having sex before marriage, I made that promise to myself.   Since then, I haven’t felt as much of a need to try to attract guys by wearing inappropriate clothing.  Instead, I now get my dad’s full approval for all my clothing.  He loves to see me being noticed for the person I am on the inside, not just the outside; and I have also found some good qualities in myself that I am beginning to appreciate.  Sheridan House has helped me understand this.

My theme verse for now is Genesis 28:19-21, “Then Jacob made a vow, saying, ‘if God will be with me and watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear, so that I return safely to my father’s house, then the Lord will be my God.’”  For me, this verse means that when God puts you in a situation He will take care of you as long as you trust in Him, whether you wanted to be in that situation or not.  I also learned that God puts you through situations to either make you stronger or to help someone else who is going through the same thing.  I am thankful for Mom, Pop, Mrs. Hafer, Mr. Vann, and all the girls for helping me learn this.   

If I could give advice to anyone who comes to Sheridan House it would be to make good choices, be open-minded about your parents’ instruction, and remember that the people here want you to change.  In the long run, you will be grateful for them wanting to help you make changes because it’s for the good.  I am gaining more trust and with that I’m slowly earning privileges for my better choices as well. 

Sheridan House has made a huge impact on my life.  For the first time, I’m looking forward to blending my life in with my dad and his fiancé to show them I love, respect, and forgive them for forcing changes in my life.  Most of all, I am grateful because I learned how God loves, forgives, and wants me to have that better relationship with Him and others in my life. 

Nicole graduated with enthusiasm and confidence from making wise choices and will take home the ability to seek the Lord for wisdom in all she does.  She has grown into a positive leader who is eager to encourage others around her.  She became teachable and open to finding her purpose in living out her life for Christ.