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HOME helps teen girl reunite with foster mother
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For this story, our spotlight person in the Faces of the Unsheltered will only be known as Sara. Her identity is protected as she is just a few months past her 18th birthday and suffers from a learning disability. 

Born in McMinnville to parents who were both drug and alcohol addicted, Sara’s early years were laden with chaos and chances of overcoming her learning disability were slim. During her early years, she was passed from family members to friends and sometimes mere acquaintances. Left to the devices of a vast array of individuals, she suffered sexual abuse that occurred on numerous occasions. 

Thankfully, after turning 10 years old, she was placed into foster care over four hours away from the havoc in which she was accustomed. Sara was placed into a caring and stable home. Yet, she still longed for her birth mother, father, and extended family. Shortly after turning 18 years old, she set out on the journey to find them -- and she did. Nothing had changed with her birth parents or family. No one had room for her, although one did allow her to sleep on the porch for a few nights.

HOME received a call at 1:30 a.m. from McMinnville City Police. The officer advised they had found an 18-year-old girl sitting on a curb with two Walmart sacks of her belongings. It was Sara. She was out of options and homeless without food or money.

Sara was immediately given shelter at an area motel. Yvonna Rutledge, a HOME volunteer, quickly acted with food, clothing and counseling. She made dozens of calls to find the best solution for the young girl. 

After the first 24 to 48 hours, it was a bleak outlook. It was then Yvonna found a breakthrough. She found Sara’s foster mother who wanted her to come back home and Sara most certainly wanted to be there! Due to the tender nature of the case, several leaders and volunteers were following the updates and it was a jubilant time as everyone celebrated the accomplishment for the young girl.

Now, how would she get there? Her foster mother was unable to make a journey of over four hours. A bus would require transfers at bus stations and it was a concern that she did not have the mental capacity to successfully make those connections. 

A private taxi was the only remaining option. It was secured and Sara was driven back to her foster mother. 

Sara has since connected back with Rutledge on several occasions and always voices how glad she is to be home.

Standard reporter Sheila Fann wrote this story.