Letter to a judge

OV26AOMUMIMany of the children and teens in our care are referred to Hearts & Homes for Youth by judges who believe that the youth need a safe, supportive, and nurturing environment to get back on their feet. Often youth tell us about their gratitude to people such as Judge Dawson, who often directly tell the youth that they believes in them. The words often motivate the kids to invest in themselves while they are in our care and take advantage of every opportunity to grow and learn.

Recently we heard from a woman who was in our care years ago. Since leaving Hearts & Homes, this young woman has traveled the world, completed her Masters degree at an Ivy League School, and worked with some of the most elite civic institutions in this country. She is extremely passionate about providing others with opportunities and has remained grateful to Judge John C. Tracey, who she credits with having “opened the door for [her] to lead an incredible and gifted life.”

On her 25th anniversary of being removed from an unsafe environment and placed in Hearts & Homes’ Independent Living Program, she recalled Judge Tracey’s “generosity of spirit and warmness” that resulted in her leaving home and building “a very rich and rewarding life with extraordinary friends and a new family.”

She said, “I have replayed the court proceedings a thousand times over in my head through the years. The conversation Judge Tracey had with me, but especially my father, and Judge Tracey’s guidance and compassion in the courtroom, has been a huge source of comfort for me and I believe gave my father some peace and a perspective that he so desperately needed. He passed away many years ago but fortunately had apologized for being an unfit parent. That allowed me to forgive him so I feel a double indebtedness to Judge Tracey.”

Making a person feel understood, accepted, and normal are not small things, they can have a huge impact. Judge Tracey, like countless other Juvenile and Family Court Judges, made a big difference in this young woman’s life – by referring her to a safe home, communicating his faith in her, and sharing his words of guidance with her and her father.