Garbage Bag Suitcase – A Memoir
Garbage Bag Suitcase is the true story of my wholly dysfunctional journey through a childhood with neglectful, drug and alcohol addicted parents, filled with constant moves in the middle of the night, multiple schools, lack of food, and loneliness. Forgotten birthdays, drug-fueled parties and empty pantries were the norm in whatever household we ended up residing in.
Finally at the age of 13, I’d had enough. After being abandoned by my mother for weeks at my grandmother’s apartment in a retirement community, I asked to be put into foster care. Surely I would fare better at a stable home than living with my highly unstable and unreliable mother? It turns out that foster care was not the storybook ending I’d hoped for. With foster parents more interested in the income received by housing a foster child, I was once again neglected emotionally. Even the money I earned working at the local grocery store was taken by my foster parents to “cover your expenses.” When a car accident landed me in the hospital with grave injuries and no one came to visit me during my three-week stay, I realized that I was truly all-alone in the world.
Overcoming many adversities, I became part of the 3% of all foster care children who get into college and the 1% who actually graduate. I became a successful businesswoman, got married, and had a daughter. Despite numerous achievements in life though, I still suffer from the long-term effects of neglect, and finds the coping skills that I adapted in my childhood are not always productive in adult life.
Garbage Bag Suitcase is not only the inspiring and hair-raising story of my journey to overcome my desolate childhood, it discusses in detail the lasting effects of foster care and it also presents grass-root solutions on how to revamp the broken foster care system, something many memoirs in this category fail to address.
About Shenandoah Chefalo (Traverse City, Michigan Author)
Shenandoah Chefalo is a graduate of Michigan State University, holding a Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Science, a Core Essentials Graduate from Coach U, and a member of the Foster Leaders Movement. She is a sought after speaker on topics surrounding youth in foster care, and has been featured as a guest locally, nationally and internationally. A survivor and alumni of the foster care system, Shenandoah Chefalo is also the co-founder of the Good Harbor Institute, which translates evidence-based research on trauma into skills that can be used immediately and everyday.
In additional to her book, Garbage Bag Suitcase, she also wrote an e-book entitled Setting Your Vision and Defining Your Goals, and is also working on her next manuscript, Hiking for Stillness.