Ginia Bishop – in her own words …
Adverse childhood experiences. I did not have a name for it back then. I just remember the emptiness I felt in my heart. I did not think that anyone loved me or understood me. I thought to myself, ‘I could disappear and no one would miss my presence.’ I was born the second oldest of nine children, on my mother’s side of the family. My father lived with us on and off again. My mother battled an addiction to drugs and alcohol. I’ve learned early on that addiction can overpower a parent’s desire and ability to actively express and provide love, nurture, and affection. These are basic needs that every child needs to grow and thrive.
Love. Nurture. Affection.
As a teenager, I began to look for love in all of the wrong places. At the tender age of 15, I became a mother. Up until that moment, I was hardly attending school. I did not think that my life has purpose. For me, and it is rare, my pregnancy was the ‘light-bulb’ moment I needed to get my life on track. I started attending school faithfully. I was earning A’s and B’s. Who knew that a few months later, I would face another setback: Homelessness. Our childhood home flooded. We couldn’t afford to move. Our landlord had no desire to provide us with another home.
At 16 years old, I chose to move to York, PA with hopes of a better life. As I reflect over my life, it was here that I would find my community; my lifeline. I attended William Penn Sr. High School. I enrolled my daughter into Ms. Marian’s, “Little Feet Childcare Center” with the help of Child Care Consultants. I signed up for WIC. My first school year after my daughter’s birth, I had perfect attendance and distinguished honor roll. I made connections with several staff-many of whom I am still in contact with today. After learning about my journey, there were several women who surrounded me and gave me what I needed in each season of life: laughter, friendship, hope, skills, and new knowledge. Most importantly, I found faith and a faith-filled community.
I graduated from William Penn Sr. High School. I was offered a scholarship to Penn State York. It was during my time in college that I began to learn about adverse childhood experiences. I found language for the pain that I had buried deep within. I was forced to confront a dark past and the false beliefs that I still held on to. I battled against depression, anxiety, and a deep-rooted fear of rejection. I still didn’t feel good enough. I did not believe that I could be successful. I didn’t trust many people.
Through intensive counseling and faith, I persevered. I didn’t think my life could change. Today, I am proud to say that I have more happy days than down days. I am a college graduate. I am a wife. A mother. A leader in my church. I am a woman whose life passion is to give back to other disadvantaged and at-risk populations. I am imperfect progress. I am proof that life can get better. You do not have to be defined by your past!
Ginia Bishop serves as the Assistant Director of Southern Community Services (SCS). Southern Community Services is a United Way funded program that provides essential social and support services to residents of southern York County.