63; vegan 12 years; hometown Beaverton, OR
"I was 8 when my parents got divorced. I had to take on the responsibilities of cooking and grocery shopping. My mom would give me a grocery list—I was 8 years old! It made me a much better person. My mom was a great, great person; she just was lead astray for many years and going through five marriages with men who didn't treat her well. I'm just glad that my life is in a different place and I married the husband of my dreams. He is very kind and supports my activism. I just wish my mom could have lived a different life. I feel sorry for the way that she lived.
"I think, as an 8-year-old to have a burden like that, I had to grow up pretty quick.
"I had some other adults in my life who watched out for me. We lived in an apartment and next door was a lady who was a fifth grade teacher. We never talked about my upbringing, but I was always invited into her house. She'd send me to the store with $10 and tell me to get some ice cream bars and to keep the change. She was a fine lady. I adored her and I helped her around the house and did some grocery shopping for her. She was there to make sure I did right. She was very good to me and made sure I was held accountable and responsible. And I've done that in my life. I've turned that around and done that for some young people in my life. I was head cook at YEA camp for two years and you become a mentor. It's just kind of a payback. If there's someone else out there I could mentor, I would do it."
Photo and Interview Holly Feral