URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — Sometimes all it takes is one person to help you get through the hardest parts of life. Once you get through it, the bond that forms is unbreakable.
One woman gave another that helping hand and became her Angel Among Us.
Kristin Washington is always surrounded by teenagers. Kids who aren’t her own.
“I feel like this is my calling,” she said. “This is what I’m supposed to do.”
She’s a case manager for Cunningham Children’s Home in Urbana. She helps teens who need direction and, at times, just someone to care.
“It’s not just a 9 – 5 job where you clock out and you’re done for the day. It goes along with you.”
And into your life. That was the case with 17-year old Dakota Stevens. When Washington met her, she had suffered years of physical and mental abuse at home.
Stevens remembered, “I kind of took it as it is. That’s normal. That’s okay.”
Washington helped her realize it wasn’t.
“We just kind of clicked and we built from there,” Stevens said with a smile.
“I was her go-to person because, growing up with the family she had, she never had that before,” said Washington.
That relationship was never more needed than when Stevens was 20-years old. She was moving out of the DCFS system and into the world but she got pregnant and suddenly life got a whole a lot harder.
“I was scared,” said Stevens. “I was most definitely scared.”
Washington wasn’t about to let her go through it alone.
“Once you go through so many things with someone, you just can’t say ‘Okay, I’m done. Good luck.'”
She got permission from work to keep supporting Stevens on her own time. She was there for doctor’s appointments and to help Stevens in her decision to give the baby up for adoption.
The young woman said she couldn’t have gotten through that period of life without Washington. She was in the delivery room holding her hand.
“I call her my mom. That’s Mom.”
Washington cried when asked what difference Stevens has made in her life.
“I’m just glad she’s allowed me to be a part of her life the way that I am.”
A connection that reinforces that Washington’s calling was spot on.
“I always told myself, if I can make a difference in one of their lives, then I’ve done my job. And I can honestly say I think I’ve made a difference in hers.”