I grew up in a toxic environment. My parents hated each other. They had me when I was young and stayed together because they felt that would be better. It wasn't. My dad started beating my mom pretty early in my life. They had more kids and it was a nightmare every day. Fighting and hitting and yelling all day long.
From a young age I learned to stay out of my house as long as I could. I would find excuses to stay at school longer or spend the night at friends. My parents were too busy fighting to notice I was gone. Unfortunately, the people who I hung out with weren't the best examples. I found drugs when I was barely 12 years old. I used it as an escape to avoid the drama with my parents.
As I got older, the less time I would spend at home. My parents ended up getting divorced and even though it was the best thing for them, it broke me even more. I would stay out for weeks at a time. Anyone's house was better than my broken house. I got deeper and deeper into addiction until I found myself sleeping at a local park.
It's a dangerous place on the streets at night, and I learned very quickly that I needed to get my life together.
I asked one of my friend's parents for help and she immediately took me to YouthHope. Everyone at YouthHope was so nice. They sat and listened to me and my problems and were ready to help with whatever I needed.
I'm now enrolled back in school, have eye glasses, and have a dentist appointment coming up.
One thing I really like about YouthHope is the fact tat they meet you where you are at. They don't push you to do anything that you're not ready to do.
They waited until I was ready to go back to school. They waited until I wanted to go see the doctor. They listen and they respect everyone that walks through the door.
Thank you to YouthHope for helping me and reminding me that it's never too late to start bettering my life.
My story starts long before I was born. My parents met as drug addicts and lived their entire lives being addicted. Me and my brother are twins and were born into that toxic environment and we weren't removed from the home until we were 3 years old. When the police came to remove us, we were surrounded by dirty needles, no running water, and no food. They described it as being one of the worst situations they've had to deal with.
We moved in with my grandmother. Although she was able to provide a safe, warm house, she didn't wants us. She had done her job at child raising and wanted to enjoy retirement. Little did we know the pain that was coming a few short years later.
My uncle moved in with my grandmother. There was nothing that could prepare us for the monster that this man was. He abused us in any way possible. Relentless, violently, and forcibly, he took everything from us. Every instance of rape removed another piece of humanity from us.
When these allegations were made, it was all denied and we are left being called liars and story makers.
We had to make a decision to leave. Even though we had nowhere to go, we had to turn our backs on what had happened and start a life for ourselves.
One day, the Activity Director from YouthHope came to talk to us at school. He talked about all the services that they provide and the fun, safe things to do there. I decided to go because I was desperate fro help.
It changed everything.
I was given a community of people who loved and cared for me. A basketball league, housing, bus passes, school supplies, shoes, hot meals, counselors, and suicide awareness classes. Now I have dreams for a better life. I know that I can achieve them because there are people supporting me.
Unfortunately, the same isn't true for my brother. He didn't come to YouthHope and the drugs, genetics, and trauma has left him in a mental illness that he cannot escape.
I search for him when I have a free second. I miss him and wish he could see what YouthHope can do for him.
I am so thankful for YouthHope for a hope reborn and a place where dreams can be accomplished.