For more than 20 years, Leslie Ann Milton, or “Miss Ann” as she is better known to the youth she supports, has welcomed teens into her home as a foster parent. They come seeking a second shot at a very complicated life.
“These kids need love and need someone to listen to them,” said Miss Ann. “I never turn a kid down.”
For some, Miss Ann’s is a way station, a short stop on a longer road to healing. For others, Miss Ann’s is a place of transition from childhood to adulthood, from dependence on an imperfect system to self-sufficiency. For all, Miss Ann’s is home.
It Takes a Village
A part of Boston, Massachusetts, Dorchester is where Miss Ann has her home of 42 years. It’s the kind of community that looks out for one another. No one is anonymous, especially not someone connected to Miss Ann.
“I introduce the kids I care for to the neighborhood,” Miss Ann explained. “My neighborhood is my community. I have a village.”
Not only does Miss Ann give the children she supports a sense of community, she also gives them a place to call home. Every youth who passes through her door knows he or she can return. And they do—for a second chance, some good advice or simply to say hello.
“They always come back to Miss Ann,” said Tracey Pierre, Massachusetts MENTOR’s Program Director. “Kids are calling, checking in. These kids don’t have family. Miss Ann’s home is a safe haven for them.”
And that’s just how she likes it.
“When Miss Ann accepts a child or teen into her home, her commitment and dedication to that child is steadfast,” said Michael Medeiros, a trainer with Massachusetts MENTOR. “She never gives up trying to prepare her children for bright, successful futures. The depth of Miss Ann’s heart is evident to all who meet her.”
An Inspiration to Her Peers
Miss Ann is also a support system for her fellow Mentors. She is a certified Massachusetts Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (MAPP) trainer and has embraced RELATE training, which is the philosophical heart of The MENTOR Network’s clinical model. Along with handing out business cards to new Mentors so they know where to reach her, Miss Ann passes along two mottos: I’m not a quitter and don’t take it personally.
“Miss Ann inspires countless Mentors with her wisdom, passion, humor and skill,” said Paul Cataldo, executive director of Massachusetts MENTOR. “She is an amazing lady, full of love.”
In addition to opening her home to youth at risk, Miss Ann helps her neighbors on a regular basis by taking them to doctors’ appointments, giving food to those faced with homelessness, and lending a hand in a myriad of other ways. Of her giving nature, she said, “My mother instilled it in us and it’s hard to shake.”