The MENTOR Network

Stories of our Mentors

Teens Look to Christal for Guiding Light

Massachusetts MENTOR foster parent appreciation

The chandelier above Christal’s dining room table illuminates a house that is virtually spotless. But this sparkle pales in comparison to the bright futures she offers children in foster care.

Many teenagers have spent time living under Christal’s roof; some for a short time, others long enough to finally have a place to call home. Over the years she has changed the lives of many, but she is not one to keep track of personal success. To her, it’s all part of a lifelong responsibility—a calling, if you will.

“The way I look at it is that everyone who was in my house was meant to be here,” said Christal, who was recently honored by Massachusetts MENTOR—a partner of The MENTOR Network—for her outstanding contributions to the lives of young people in foster care. “Each kid is different. When they leave here, if they can take just one thing with them that I taught them, then I did what I was supposed to do.”

For Christal There’s Only Family

Christal has been part of Massachusetts MENTOR’s Therapeutic Foster Care program since 2003. She is a mother, a grandmother, and a foster parent.

“She takes care of us like her own,” said John*, who attends a day/evening academy and has dreams of attending college. “I know kids from other foster homes and it’s not the same where they live. Miss Christal does this from the kindness of her heart. She’s taught me the importance of responsibility and now I enjoy cleaning my room and being more independent.”

Christal treats every child that comes into her home like one of her own, and stands beside them no matter how difficult their challenges might be.

“She fights for her kids,” said Massachusetts MENTOR clinical supervisor Tracey Pierre.

A Community of Caring

Christal is known throughout her community; not just by her neighbors, but by the police, local officials, and members of her congregation. She leverages the support of Massachusetts MENTOR and resources in her community to make a difference in the lives of many kids.

“She doesn’t just bring kids into her home, she brings them into the community,” Massachusetts MENTOR program service coordinator Dana Catrambone said. “With Christal, it’s like they have an extended family of people to turn to for support.”

It’s easy to see the impact that Christal has made. Just ask any of her former foster children, who still keep in touch and remind her that she forever changed their lives. Christal is the one who provided them hope. She provided that bright, guiding light.

“I have compassion for young people. In the end, if I can help one person, then all of my work is worthwhile.

*Name changed to protect the privacy of the young person in foster care.