Casa Pacifica Alumna Shares Her Story
Hello, my name is Brandy Olalia. I grew up with both of my parents using drugs. My dad was in and out of prison, and I was often homeless with my mother, brother and sister. At the age of 12, I was taken into foster care. From ages 12 to 15, I was placed in multiple foster homes and group homes, totaling in 10 placements in three years. And finally, at age l5, I was placed at Casa Pacifica.
When I first arrived at Casa Pacifica, I remember being so pissed off at the world. That caused me to have bad behaviors and be very difficult to work with. I didn’t want to participate in any of the activities. I refused to go to school almost every day. I didn’t want to ever leave my room, and I was constantly getting into fights with my peers. Even after all of the trouble I caused and all of the property damage I had done, Casa Pacifica didn’t give up on me.
Casa Pacifica offered me an internship with the maintenance department to pay off all of the property damage I had done and work off some community service hours I needed to do. That is when I was introduced to Robert Vangundi, the maintenance supervisor.
From that point until now, Robert has done so much for me and has had such a positive impact on my life. He was the first person I was ever really afraid to disappoint. The first person whose opinion ever really mattered to me. I didn’t know why back then, but now I fully understand what it was. It was that I finally felt like someone truly cared about me. Not because he had to but because he wanted to.
I’d had these walls built up for years because from such a young age I was all I had. For years, therapists, behavioral specialists, social workers and everyone else around me tried to break those walls down, and Robert the maintenance man did just that. After a few months of knowing Robert, I began to change my life around. I started to participate in activities, going on outings and going to school. I got more into my treatment and started to let more people in.
I finally had something I never had before. I had hope, and without Casa Pacifica and the staff there who didn’t give up on me when I had completely given up on myself, I would have never found that hope. Because of that hope, I went from being a homeless child with two drug addicted parents to a full-time college student with two jobs.
My story today is only one example of the thousands of lives Casa Pacifica has changed, and I will forever be grateful to Casa and its supporters.