I Will Rise Above
I am a foster kid. I was in foster care my whole life. I never actually made it out of foster care. No one wanted me. As I got older, I knew what I could say to get out of foster home I didn’t like. So I jumped from foster home to foster home until I turned 18 and aged out. Then I was left on the street.
My mom was a drug addict and I was told from a young age that my dad died. When I aged out of foster I learned that my dad was actually alive and I was determined to find him.
I eventually found him and moved out to the city where he lived. I found out quickly that my dad wanted nothing to do with me. He told everyone that I wasn’t his son and he refused to see me or talk to me while I lived by him.
I ended up moving to Redlands and living on the streets. I got on some government assistance and decided this is how I was going to live.
As I lived on the streets, I started seeing that I didn’t want to live like this forever. I had a new girlfriend and we wanted a better life for ourselves.
That’s when we started going to YouthHope. They immediately started helping me by feeding us, clothing us, and providing options for jobs or education.
I decided that I wanted to have a job and work for my money. I was done living on government assistance. I didn’t need it and I wanted to make a honest living.
Heidi found me a job training to attend at YouthHope. On the day of the training, I showed up an hour early. Everyone was shocked, but I was taking this seriously and I wouldn’t let anything come in the way of me achieving my dreams.
Now I have two jobs, I have stopped getting government assistance, and I have a place to live.
Do I still struggle? Yes. Do I make a bunch of money? No. But I am better today than I was yesterday. I have a future that looks bright and if I keep working hard, then I know that next year I might have some money to put away for savings. And in a few years, I will have enough to live in a better place.
The possibilities are endless. Without YouthHope, none of this would have been possible, They believed in me and gave me the tools I needed! Thank you YouthHope!
When we can’t help, they will
It was Thanksgiving. We were serving our usual Thanksgiving meal at our drop in center. This isn’t the most fun event we do at YouthHope. It’s not a party or even a celebration, its more of a last resort.
Our youth will try and go to ANY thanksgiving get together before they come to YouthHope. They would go to a friends house, a family member they hate, a distant family member, anywhere they can find before coming to our meal.
They want to feel wanted. They want to feel needed. They want to know that they have somewhere to go. This is why they try to find other places.
So when they show up to YouthHope they are hurting. They feel lonely, they feel hurt, they feel unloved. So we spend the day reminding them that they are loved, cared for, and have a bright future.
One young lady came in this past Thanksgiving and was very upset. Her family didn’t want her, she had a boyfriend abusing her, and she had nowhere to go.
She was dropped off in Redlands by her old boss and was told to “figure it out”. She found her way to YouthHope looking for help.
We fed her, talked to her, tried calling her family, and looked for emergency shelters where she could stay the weekend until the holiday was over. Nothing was working. Her family ignored her, shelters were closed for the weekend, and we needed her to get away from her boyfriend.
Heidi gathered some of our core YouthHope youth and sat them down. She explained that they needed to keep her safe through the weekend so we could find her a more permanent shelter after the holiday. They agreed and took her under their wings. They stayed with her, helped her find food, kept her safe as they slept on the streets, and returned her safely after the weekend.
She was able to catch a bus to Florida where distance relatives agreed to take her.
Although sleeping on the street for the weekend wasn’t the ideal place for a young lady, our youth came together and protected her until we were able to help her.
We are so thankful for the way our youth help each other. We are family!