When I started Sunrise back in 2008, I began as a residential staff working on the TuesdayThursday, and Saturday evening shift.  Honestly I didn’t really know what I was signing myself up for. I quickly learned that on any given day there will be someone who is sick to their tummy, someone will have a sprain or an injury of some kind, two friends will be in a fight, someone will complain, someone will be happy and content, and someone else will be angry or upset.  I was in bewilderment at how much these girls reminded me of myself when I was their age. I had sick days or days where I was just sick and tired of it all. I had ups and downs and my fair share of fights with friends, who I now realize were never really friends to begin with.  I have struggled in life figuring out wrong from right and good from bad.  I realized that I needed to try to help these girls who seem lost and living in a chaotic world.
There was something that I could give them even though at the time I didn’t even know what that was. As I have been with these  girls I  have encountered  so many experiences.  I have done things I never thought I would ever do, like repelling! I have had so many great relationships with these girls and they have allowed me to be a part of their struggles and triumphs.  I have been so proud of them I have cried and so frustrated with them I have cried.
I have had many nicknames, some of which I most certainly didn’t approve off, but some are unforgettable. I have been called Nessie, V, Lockness, VNess, Vanini, and finally House Mother. That is what made me write this blog, my recent name of House Mother. I feel so honored that these girls would call me that.  I do care for them and help them. I also get after them when they misbehave.  I have never thought I would have this many teenage girls at the age of 29, but I do. And I love each of them for who they are on the inside, not what they show me on the outside. I am the House Mother, and that is what I have to offer these girls!
– written by Vanessa Leach, Residential Manager (House Mother)