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Meet Luis

He received the support he needed to cope with past trauma and succeed in school. And he did it with our donors' help.

At three years old, Luis and his twin sister were still wearing diapers and drinking out of baby bottles.


They had been living in California with their mother, but she was recently evicted and needed a safe place for them to stay. She was struggling with mental health issues and needed help from her sister, MaryBel, to watch over the children while she worked on her recovery.

Within a couple of days, the twins were back home with MaryBel, and she began to notice some other problems.

Behavioral issues, like kicking, screaming and throwing toys were becoming a serious problem, especially for Luis. When he went to preschool he would act out violently, hitting and disrupting other children and caretakers around him.

MaryBel knew he needed help, and Luis was referred to a program called KidSquad, which is operated by Child Saving Institute and funded through United Way of the Midlands donors.

KidSquad helps children learn how to handle their emotions and build relationships with others, and over time Luis learned coping mechanisms. When he was upset, he would blow into a fan and count down from ten to help him calm down. When he felt overwhelmed he would go to his “cozy corner,” an area of the room with blankets and pillows where he could relax and be alone.

“He started to recognize that he could be sad, he could be angry, he could cry, but that it was not ok to throw things or to hit people or break things.”


Eventually, he got to the point where he would notice when other children were upset or angry, and he would teach them the coping mechanisms he learned.

Diana, a KidSquad clinical supervisor, helped explain that sometimes in trauma situations children may experience their needs not being met. Especially when this happens over and over again, it can cause frustration and confusion, which sometimes manifests as violence.

“They learn the wrong thing, that ‘When I have a need it’s not going to be met. When I have a need there’s not going to be anyone there to care for me.’ So, we do corrective experiences.”

There are kids all across our metro who have experiences similar to Luis. We are so grateful to our donors for supporting programs like KidSquad to ensure families like Luis’ have the supports they need to live happy and healthy lives.

A Circle of Support

Poverty is complex and challenging. We know that someone who needs food might also struggle with physical and mental health, job stability and more. That’s why we invest donor dollars in basic needs, education AND financial stability programs that form a circle of support for people in need.


Luis is just one of many individuals who have benefited from local programs, funded through United Way donors, that offer education supports. We invite you to learn more about the more than 25 education programs your donation helps fund.
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You can make a difference today by supporting local education programs that help kids like Luis.

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