CASA volunteer Pamela Meredith initially had difficulty getting her foster child to talk with her. Then they had what could be called, “A Pizza Summit.”

“She had closed me out,” Pamela said. “She didn’t communicate with me. So, I took her to a Pizza Hut and we had a heart-to-heart.”

 “I explained that just like her, I had a rough start,” said Pamela, whose mom and dad were substance abusers. Pamela was raised primarily by her mother’s nephew and his wife, who she called, “’My Second Mom.’”

Pamela told her foster youth that she is now a divorced mother of three girls, two of whom were born when she was in college. She went on to graduate and earn an advanced degree while working at the American Bar Association.

Pamela said her own responsibilities increased three years ago when her cousin gave her custody of her newborn baby, who had crack cocaine in her system.

“If I could make it, you could make it,” Pamela told her foster youth – who had been abused, neglected and abandoned by her father, and whose mother is incapable of caring for her.

 “I told her, ‘I’ll help. But I can’t do it for you,’’ Pamela recalled. “I said, ‘You have to make the effort.”

Since becoming Pamela’s foster youth a year ago, the teenager has buckled down with her studies. In fact, she took extra classes to make up for lost time and is now back on schedule to graduate from high school next year.

“I’m proud of her,” Pamela said.

“I think what she likes best about our relationship is that she can count on me,” Pamela said. “She might not like everything that I have to say, but she respects what I have to say.”