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Community sending letters of encouragement to teen who lost both parents as she graduates high school

For her high school graduation, the community is again rallying around Serena Semere-Hamrick.

WOODSTOCK, Ga. — A Woodstock teen who lost both her parents is set to graduate high school and now hoping for letters of support from a community that has rallied around her ahead of the momentous occasion.

11Alive's Kaitlyn Ross first reported on the story of Serena Semere-Hamrick in December, after the community was stepping up to try to support her through the holiday season.

She lost her father several years ago, and last fall her mother died just weeks after a diagnosis of a rare and aggressive cancer.

RELATED: 'I feel left behind' | Woodstock community rallies around 17-year-old who lost both of her parents

As she was about to be 18 years old, the state Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) checked in on her but closed her case.

Her teachers and classmates started a fundraiser to help her pay for necessities., though, and Chick-fil-A - where she works full-time - set her up with a financial counselor.

"There's so many things we hadn't talked about, like health insurance, how to pick up prescriptions. I wasn't ready for it," she said. "I'm just not sure how to be an adult." 

Since then, Kaitlyn reports, she's had to grow up fast.

"When we did the story, she asked me, how do I become an adult? Day by day, she is doing it. I’m so proud of her for completing high school and graduating in a few weeks."

There is so much I would tell Serena. She’s smart and she’s strong and she absolutely deserves all the love in the...

Posted by Kaitlyn Ross 11Alive on Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Now, for her high school graduation, the community is again rallying around her and sending letters of encouragement and she steps into the world.

"They’re having an encouragement breakfast before graduation, and she was asking if anyone could send her a letter?" Kaitlyn wrote on  Facebook. "She wants someone to support her before this huge accomplishment and have something to open on such an important day. I’m going to send her a letter and if it moves your heart, I hope you will, too. This sweet girl deserves the world and I know she’s going to make a huge difference in it."

Serena is graduating from River Run High School in Woodstock, and letters can be sent to the school or dropped off - please send no later than April 25. The school also has several stipulations about the letters:

  • Envelopes must be no larger than a business (size no. 10) envelope
  • Envelopes must contain letters only – nothing extra
  • Note: No money, confetti, glitter, or other items that could make a mess as she will be opening these during the school's senior breakfast.

"These rules are from my school and not from me, but if you’d like to send a letter I’d love to have the chance to open one during my senior breakfast!" she wrote.

They can be sent to:

ATTN: Serena Semere-Hamrick
River Ridge High School

400 Arnold Mill Rd
Woodstock, GA 30188
United States


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