I was born in Lebanon, OR in 1972. I grew up with my brother
Kenneth Vaughan Jr. Until 1993 when my older brother Kenneth or “Dickie” as we called him was killed in a car accident. We were
close to two years apart and although we fought non-stop as siblings do, we were also as close as could be. This tragedy would
shape my life in so many ways that I would never understand it until later.
We grew up as a broken family from just infant and toddler. My father cared for us along with Grandparents, Aunts/Uncles and neighbors. My father drank heavily early on but then stopped drinking when I somewhere between 7 and 10. My mother drank heavily also and had left us kids very young. We were a family in poverty with little to hope for or find hope in. Our father was very rough and had an explosive temper. Not afraid to cross lines between discipline and abuse, sometimes several times a day. At least once both my brother and I were removed and placed in foster care for physical abuse.
At the age of 12 or so alcohol and drugs entered the scene. Most of my friends were experiencing as well but for me it served like a perfect answer or escape. From the very beginning I began to give myself over to the drug life. Soon crime was a natural part of the scene.
My story is much the same as a lot of the kids we serve at the Better Kids Club.
Broken home, alcoholism in both parents, abandonment issues. I was one of those kids.
I started using and running away at an early age. Becoming loyal friends with other people who were using and runaways as well. Not really understanding that the group I had come to know were kids with similar backgrounds.
I became a corrections client around 15 or 16 and recognized that I was an addict by 18. My life kept getting lower and lower, harder and harder. Drug addition, criminal behavior, violence and brokenness continued well into my 30’s and 40’s until I began to understand that the drugs and alcohol were not the root of the problem but a symptom of the brokenness of my heart, my past and the way I looked at myself. Having a very dismal outlook – no hope.
I know much of the struggles that kids suffer from these day.
Some call it a career, for me it’s a calling. From the time I was 12 I had a love for children. I babysat and devoted countless hours to children’s ministry in church as puppeteer, children’s church and an assortment of events for kids. As college approached the obvious direction for my future career was elementary education; however a troubled past ran interference.
My formative years were wrought with uncertainty and fear. Our doting mother did what she could to protect her children but she too fell victim to a controlling, alcoholic husband. My siblings and I experienced early childhood trauma and sadly I battled with the aftermath well into adulthood.
Despite the obvious course for my future, I fought it. Because of crisis experienced during those formative years I questioned my intelligence and worthiness, solely lacking self-confidence. It wasn’t until I was placed in a practicum experience at the end of sophomore year that I KNEW where I was meant to be.
I graduated in 1987 with an Elementary Education degree and began teaching kindergarten. Despite my insecurities I discovered that I had the heart, the intuition, the ability to connect, and the drive to reach children. Throughout the course of my teaching career I have mentored, taught, and enjoyed countless
children in both private and public schools. My connection with struggling children has been profound. Because of shared experiences and insight gained only from going through these experiences, I could empathize and truly connect on a deeper level.
Our Goal at BKC is “Break the Cycle”. Our kids are at risk for a range of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral problems. Some can overcome these problem but many will struggle. Our focus here is build resiliency. Characteristics that make children resilient in adverse condition are:
1. Obtaining positive attention from others
2. Having adequate communication skills
3. Surrounding self with caring attitude
4. A desire to achieve belief in self help
5. Belief in self help
These characteristic are woven into the fabric of our club. We strategically incorporate life lessons within fun activities each of our meetings. Without invention, many of our children will repeat the same cycle. Join us today to help build resiliency. With a group effort, we are bound to make a difference!