Youth Without Shelter’s (YWS ) 30th year of empowering youth with the skills and resources to transition to independent living.
Starting today and over the next 30 weeks YWS will be sharing with you on our website blog 30 stories for 30 years, stories of youth who have called YWS their home.
“The race is not for the swift but for those who endure to the end.” It is not about how fast you can to get to the finish line in life, it is about getting there at some point in the future. What if you did not have a race? What if there seemed to be no way out? What if it felt so dark I could not see where to start?
I am proud to say, I always have had a race, a dream, a pathway to success! I do not know how that journey would have begun but at least I knew some day I would full-fill that dream.
But today I am delighted to talk about how my race began. To start off I could say it was a struggle staying at home. I had to fight to go to school everyday. Not to mention the thought of going home was unbearable. All through the day all I could think about in class was not going home. It was so hard to get reading assignments and schoolwork done. I would often go to the library to study after school but it was just for a couple of hours because I would have to make my way back home as the streets got too dark. I would also try to sleep as soon as I got home from school so that I could stay up in the nights when it was quiet. But trying to sleep was also a challenge because the environment was very noisy. I barely passed the first semester (a pre-college prep program to help me get into my practical nursing program).
In the second semester I decided I wasn’t going to fail because I needed the grades to get into my program. So I was talking to a friend about my situation and she referred me to a social worker. This social worker introduced me to the Stay in School Program, where she brought me to complete the application. I breathed a sigh of relief. Better days are coming. But you know in life you got to have patience so that took a little while due to the fact that I was on a waiting list for the Stay in School Program. I humbly waited at school. I tried to connect with students that I noticed were more focused. I eventually made friends with this girl who was really good on the materials in class. We then started to get closer, whereas after class we would stay back and review the materials. After getting to know her more she offered I could stay with her until we were done with this semester. That was like hearing “It’s dinner time for me.” She offered me a nice bed to sleep on and a quiet environment. Each day we attended school together, we kept focused, we studied our notes headed to and from school on the bus. This living situation helped me greatly so my marks started to improve.
While staying at her house for about one and a half months I got a call from YWS. I was so happy…..I moved into the Stay in School Program. I was welcomed by staff with a nice bed, clean sheets and other items that I needed. I felt comfortable and at home. This program has had a tremendous impact on my school life whereas I stayed focused and continued studying. At the end of the semester I can proudly say I got accepted into the practical nursing program. This is the program I always wanted to go into. When I was younger everyone around me would call me nurse. I tend to be caring, loving and considerate. I was offered a part-time job to look after an elderly individual. It was always a pleasure to go there to make her life happy, clean and comfortable.
I say all of this to explain that the opportunity to get into the nursing program would not have been possible if I did not have the help of Youth Without Shelter.
On behalf of all the Stay in School Program residents I would like to express our great gratitude to each and every one of you for making our races a reality.