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Xzavion and his family turn things around

October 27, 2011

Xzavion, center, poses with his artwork. His mother, Marianela, left, holds her daughter. Family Intervention Specialist Alicia Honeyghan stands behind Xzavion.

Marianela is a testament to patience and perseverance.

Her son, Xzavion, is proof that no one should ever give up on a child.

Just 8 years old, Xzavion had already experienced the worst parts of being in a family. He regularly witnessed domestic violence. He was hyperactive and uncontrollable. He broke his arm after falling from a bookshelf he climbed. He became verbally and physically aggressive toward his mother and younger sister. Even after Marianela got out of the abusive relationship, other problems arose. She had to stop working full time to care for Xzavion.

At her job, Marianela helped youth with behavioral problems, but it was different with her own family.

“I worked for 10 years for the Center for Human Development,” she said. “I had the experience, but when it comes to your own home, it’s different. I thought, ‘I’ve got to do what I have to do.’ I put my life on hold and left everything behind to find help for my son.”

They struggled financially.

“Things just became a big old mess,” she said. “Instead of him getting better, it got worse.”

Alicia Honeyghan is a Youth Villages family intervention specialist in Springfield, Mass., who was assigned to help the family.

“Marianela works hard for herself and her children,” Alicia said. “I think she was overwhelmed with everything that was going on.”

Marianela researched Youth Villages and learned more about its Intercept intensive in-home services. Youth Villages’ in-home programs provide help for troubled teenagers, children and families in their own homes at times convenient for the families. The intensive in-home services program is a proven alternative treatment for children and youth who otherwise would be placed in foster care, residential treatment, detention centers, hospitals or other juvenile facilities. Diverting youth from these out-of-home placements, Intercept family intervention specialists provide guidance and treatment resources for youth and families in their own homes.

Alicia met with Xzavion and the family regularly, and was on call 24 hours a day. They established routines at home, more structure and behavior planning. In addition, she became an advocate for Xzavion.

“Marianela didn’t know how to battle for Xzavion,” Alicia said. “I supported her efforts to get Xzavion the help he needed at school.”

In addition, Alicia helped with getting the younger daughter in daycare and Xzavion in a performing arts program.

“Alicia does her job very well,” Marianela said. “It’s like we’re a team. My son had to call her a few times, and she always answered. She’s a part of us, and my son adores her.”

The family successfully discharged from the program a few months ago, and Xzavion and his sister continue to do well in school.

Marianela is working toward finishing school. She’d like to be a patient care assistant or nurse assistant. She’s dealing with her financial issues and working through them. Best of all, the family is pursuing a positive future together.

“I think we had to take a bad turn and turn it around for the good,” Marianela said. “Alicia helped us turn it around.”

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