Saturday, May 26, 2007

Remembering Cameron on Memorial Day

Some of us survive foster care, and live to make a positive difference for others. Others of us don't make it.

As with many youth in foster care, Cameron Smith was shuttled frequently from placement to placement. He began to fall behind in school. At least one family member contacted DCFS to request custody of Cameron, but their request was denied.

Instead, he was housed in a Juvenile Detention Center for a time, because a foster home could not be found for him.

When the Department of Child and Family Services finally did find a home for Cameron, it was with a single mother who was retired, disabled and caring for 7 children.

14-year-old Cameron was playing basketball with a 15-year-old friend in a park in Jonesboro when shots rang out. The friend was shot in the knee; Cameron took a shot to the torso. He collapsed in front of an apartment complex. His body was found on May 21, 2007.

Many questions were asked by friends and relatives when Cameron's body was found.

His many friends, who showed up at the City Youth Ministries in Jonesboro carrying candles to represent his brief life wondered: "Why him?"

Andrea Smith, his cousin, had harder questions to ask, like: Why wasn't there a missing person's report when 14-year-old Cameron first turned up missing?

Terri Ross, Cameron's third-grade teacher found it hard to believe that only four years after leaving her class, Cameron was now being buried. She said, "He was just an innocent child. All of these are kids and they're just kids in bigger bodies as they get older and they still need hugs and kisses and they still need a mom and dad, or somebody to love them."

Yes, they need someone to love them - and, in foster care, you learn to wait.

Cameron Smith of Jonesboro, Arkansas, will never have the chance to outlast the demons of his childhood.

Knowing that makes me feel terribly sad.

Sources: and

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Sometimes it's all so sad I can't look at anyone but the kids that are here.
Big Red Driver,

I understand what you mean. For me, as a former foster child, I read this stories, and I become even more determined to make a positive difference.

What's really terrible is that Cameron is one of TWO 14-year-olds in foster care who died this month in a similar fashion.

In Springfield, Massachusetts, earlier this month, 14-year-old Dymond McGowan was shot in the stomach in a drive-by shooting late Thursday night -- just a few hours after her foster mother had called police to report her as a runaway.

Here is a link to the GuestBook at Dymond's funeral:

Friends and family report Dymond D. McGowan was much like her name: a jewel in the rough, a sweet child turned rebellious...

Dymond had been punished for missing curfew, and in an act of teenage defiance, had run away.

My friend Gayle and I often present youth workshops... Last summer, Gayle led a dramatic workshop with foster teens on the subject of running away...

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