Dirien Ramirez had been in twelve foster homes and facilities by the time she was fifteen years old. And things were not going well. Then she met Karen Sabo, an attorney with Washoe Legal Services. Karen provided something Dirien never had, "Somebody that was a constant in my life, someone who was always there for me, that was representing me," Dirien told me. Dirien and Karen shared the story of how they met and the obstacles they overcame at a luncheon for Washoe Legal Services at the Atlantis recently.
Karen says representing Dirien taught her something as well. "It helped build my faith in the ability of children to overcome serious abusive and neglectful things that happen in their lives," she said.
Dirien eventually transformed from a troubled teen, into an honors student at TMCC." I'm going to school for criminal justice. I want to be a police officer," she said. She currently has a 3.4 GPA.
Karen was a relatively new attorney with the private, non-profit legal services agency, when she started working with Dirien. But now each says they have a bond that will last forever. "Life-long," says Karen Sabo. "She's a kid that has a strength and resilience about her that is rare. She's a gem. I love this girl."
Dirien feels the same. "I don't have a real family," she said. "This is my family. These are the people that I go to when I have questions." And, she says, the people she met through Washoe Legal Services hold her accountable, just like family would. She wouldn't want it any other way.