Gift of Love: Pavla, Determined Young Lady

Small things we take for granted everyday, can be big things to a child. Just taking time to share a moment with a young girl or boy can be a life changing experience, for you and them. The Tyler Junior College Apache Ladies Basketball Team learned this lesson first hand when they spent time with an East Texas foster child.

"Come on, I'm going to introduce you to the ladies," says Trenia Tillis, head coach for the TJC women's Basketball team.

For 15 year old Pavla, today is a dream come true. She gets to play basketball with the TJC Apache Ladies Basketball Team. "All right, are we ready? Huddle with your team."

Coach Tillis and her team have welcomed this foster child onto their court. "Anything we can do the help this kids situation. She wants a family. She needs a family and we're like a family over here at TJC. So, we know how important a family is," explains Tillis.

Pavla has been in foster care four years, removed from her home because of neglect. Her case worker Tami Brown describes it has a military type group home. The children were segregated from one another, not even allowed to eat together. When Pavla was removed, her head was shaven. "The home was set up with some pretty stringent behavior modification things where there was actually a seclusion room that was built on to the home. It was used, in essence, as time out. They would be placed in there and boarded up."

It has left Pavla timid, but not defeated. "The thing about Pavla is she's so resilient she will not give up. I mean she just keeps trying and trying and if that's studying 4 hours a night for a homework assignment, where other children may only have to study an hour, she will do that. She's that determined," says Brown.

That determination is already paying off. She's an A-B student. In addition to sports, Pavla likes what most typical teenage girl like, "go to the mall and go shopping."

Since being starved for attention at a young age, Pavla needs praise and encouragement, the very thing she's getting from these TJC players. Today, Pavla is truly the center of attention.

This day was more than just a fun outing for this foster child. Brown says, "For Pavla out here with these girls and them including her, I mean her self esteem just went through the roof. I mean absolutely. It was great!"

Pavla is ready for a forever family but cautious, afraid of rejection. She turns to her faith for security. "So, the one thing she expressed to me is she does want a family who will take her to church, who are Christian people," says Brown. Pavla adds, "I like going to church because you can learn about Jesus."

While Pavla waits for her prayers to be answered, she will never forget this day and how grateful she is to the TJC Apache Ladies Basketball Team. "Thank you for letting me play ball with you and hang out and have a fun time."

At the end of the game Coach Tillis approached Pavla, surrounded by the team. "On behalf of the Lady Apache Basketball Team, you are now an honorary member of our family. We call ourselves a family. This is your official Ladies Apache Basketball and a pink T-shirt, cause girlie girls wear pink."

If you'd like information on Pavla call our Gift of Love hotline. The toll free number is 1-888-kids-275.

Gillian Sheridan reporting.