Clarissa King


ANYTHING WORTH HAVING DOESN'T COME EASY AND IF ITS WORTH HAVING TO YOU YOUR HEART AND PASSION SHOULD BE BIGGER THAN ANY FEARS AND OBSTACLES YOU WILL HAVE TO OVERCOME.

Excerpts from remarks for 4/30/08 Congressional Briefing on Girls and Juvenile Justice: Importance of Prevention

When I was about 5 or 6 years old, my mother decided that she was not ready to handle the hard work of being a single parent. She took me, my older sister, and my twin brother and sister to live with my granny. Part of me understands why she did this. She was just not ready for kids yet, but she came to see us. She was sort of a “party animal,” and didn’t take care of me or my siblings.

Unfortunately, my granny’s house was not a better living situation for us. Granny sold drugs and ran a “boot leg” business—selling alcohol—in her home. My granny introduced me to drugs and alcohol. She never told us the outcomes of the drugs or drinks. We thought it was an everyday lifestyle for everyone and granny.

I have never known or seen my father. All I know is his name and that he use to live in the same part of Dallas as I did. My uncles were in and out of the prison system. During this time, my older sister had to take on the mother role and play mom in our lives for a few years or so. But we learned how to depend on each other as well as ourselves to make things meet and be right. As kids, we helped our granny sell drugs and beers out of her house. We were the kids that everyone said were bad, rude, spoiled, and never going to amount to anything. We possibly knew every new and used drugs being sold and the weekly beer specials for the weeks; we knew the prices and profits. We grew up learning how to count money at a young age. My granny might have been a bad example for us but she did always say “yo granny aint going to raise no fools”. I had many family members that always told me and my older sister that we needed to move out and move in with them, but we loved our granny no matter what she did. We figured whatever she did was right and there was no better way of doing it at all, if it wasn’t her way.

When my granny died of a drug overdose, I was 11 years old, and my life started heading down the wrong path. Basically, I started doing what she was doing. I felt as if I needed to live her life… until… I was placed permanently in Girls Inc.

Amid the dark clouds, my only silver lining was my aunts, who enrolled me in Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas. My oldest sister was already attending the afterschool program and my aunts noticed a change in her attitude and behavior. They enrolled me believing that the same positive results would begin to flourish in my life. They were right.

Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas is not only a building, but is a place for girls such as I to call home. Somewhere you feel protected and loved. I found my passion of the arts department here. I started expressing myself through dancing, singing, speaking, and drawing.

Eventually, my twin siblings and I were reunited with my mom. She found a stable job and she took on the responsibilities of all four kids. But, I still needed Girls Inc. Girls Inc. showed me right from wrong. They showed me how to beat the odds by painting a different picture of how to achieve goals and deal with life issues as a teenager.

Thanks in part to Girls Inc., my older sister graduated from McArthur High School, and graduated from Texas Woman’s University with a Nursing degree. She is now 26, and takes care of HIV patients. She has a one-year-old daughter.

I have been a very active member of Girls Inc. for twelve years. I am a positive role model for my peers and younger girls at the West Dallas Center. In the fall, I plan to attend Grambling State University in Grambling, Louisiana, majoring in Graphic Design and Business Administration, to become a graphic designer. Later on in life, I hope to own my own advertising and printing company called, “The King’s Print and Design Company.

The advice I give to all girls of all ages is never limit your goals because “ANYTHING WORTH HAVING DOESN’T COME EASY AND IF ITS WORTH HAVING TO YOU YOUR HEART AND PASSION SHOULD BE BIGGER THAN ANY FEARS AND OBSTACLES YOU WILL HAVE TO OVERCOME.”

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