This is a story about Samantha, told in her own words. Samantha's story presents only one example of the many issues that bring young people to the Connecticut Junior Republic and the services it provides. The Aid has contributed funds to CJR programs very similar to the one that helped Samantha when she was an adolescent in need of support and guidance.
“Prior to joining CJR, I was confused, angry, hormonal and really struggled with trying to figure out who I was. Middle School is difficult for many reasons: 1)it is the point in time where hormones start to kick in; 2)you’re trying to establish your individuality; and 3)kids are straight up MEAN – it’s like being a hunger games participant. Survival of the fittest.
Combine that with my home life. At that time, my parents were going through a divorce, rightly so because my father was a heroin addict and abuser. He’d go to great lengths to get a fix, even at the expense of his children:
We’d pee in cups for him so he had clean urine to sell to his friends who were in rehab.
He sold my jewelry, cell phone, clarinet – anything and everything to make a dollar.
I was angry, aggressive, unruly and rude. My behavior took an interesting turn while in Middle School. I can’t even tell you how many times I was suspended for fighting in the halls, how many times I was called to the guidance counselor’s office. If a teacher said something to me I didn’t like, I made sure they knew it. Even though it was negative attention, it was still attention.
It took me years to realize that my father’s addiction and the failure of my parents’ marriage had nothing to do with me and that he is completely incapable of loving anyone else because he doesn’t love himself. CJR played a pivotal role in helping me to understand addiction. That it’s a sickness. One that you can’t take personally – but most importantly something that will not define you. I learned how to be courageous. How to say no and strip myself of the “responsibility” I felt to “make him happy,” and enable his behavior.
These are the kind of skill sets CJR teaches our community’s youth. Coping techniques; Conflict resolution techniques; Anger management techniques; All the skill sets that provide students with what they need to be successful contributing members of society who are not defined by the adversity they’ve faced.
I’m forever indebted to CJR. I have a personal commitment to meet in helping to love, inspire and educate our community’s youth. So if the staff of CJR hasn’t heard it enough – Thank you. Thank you for caring, for loving, for teaching and inspiring. People don’t realize how far a smile, a hug, or listening ears can go."
Samantha graduated from UCONN in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications with a minor in Psychology. Recently married, she is a Senior Marketing and Communications Specialist at one of Connecticut’s major insurance companies and a recent graduate of the University of New Haven’s (UNH) Master of Science in Healthcare Administration program. This fall (2018), Samantha will be an adjunct faculty member at UNH teaching Health Law and Regulation. She currently serves on the University's Master of Healthcare Administration Advisory Board and plans to pursue a professional doctorate degree in Bioethics and Health Policy.