“Eagle Village taught me that life is simple when you give it a chance,” says Joanna Laponsie, who was a resident at Eagle Village between 2005-August 2006. “It humbled me and taught me that life’s not as bad as I made it out to be and helped me get over a lot of the issues I had. I came out of there a better person.”

Many of the youth who leave Eagle Village say that they will carry the lessons they have learned with them into their adult life, and many of those former residents who are now adults say Eagle Village truly changed their lives.

And every time they say it, we smile. Every kid, every person, every story holds a special place in our hearts and we just can’t help but smile when we see them not only surviving, but thriving in life.

When Joanna came to Eagle Village, she struggled with listening to authority figures and had a strained relationship with her parents.

“Eagle village taught me how to respect others and learn to trust again, it gave me back my relationship with my parents,” Joanna says.

When Joanna told us what made the difference for her, it wasn’t a surprise. Her answer is one we hear from many former residents. What made the difference for Joanna was the staff – the loving, nurturing, caring staff of Eagle Village.

“I will never forget the staff I had there! They made a huge impact in my life. They were always there for me when I just needed someone,” she says. “They always did more than they had to to make sure I succeeded in the program. I’m still in contact with a few of them to this day.”

Today, Joanna is engaged and has two children of her own – an 8-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy. She works in a group home for mentally challenged adults – serving as a loving, nurturing, caring person for her clients to turn to.

“I absolutely love my job and the people I care for! They are a joy to be around and make me smile daily,” she says. “This job has taught me so much. It’s humbled me so much. These people have so many more problems than the average person and they are some of the sweetest loving people I’ve encountered.  If they can find reasons to smile every day, despite the problems they face every day, why can’t the rest of the world?”