Christina, a bright college student, never imagined she would ever experience homelessness. But when her mother was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer, things quickly changed.
Her mom got sicker and could not work. The medical bills began to pile up and they struggled to pay rent. Before too long, they were facing eviction.
Christina’s mom and her younger siblings were placed in one of the city’s family shelters, but because Christina was over 18 years old, she did not qualify to stay with them.
Christina did what hundreds of youth do when faced with these circumstances: she couch surfed. Anything to avoid sleeping on the streets. But she knew a couch was not a substitute for a home. She was homeless.
Fortunately, Christina found a local lifeline that would change her life: the Sasha Bruce Barracks Row Drop-in Center.
A New Hope
At the Drop-In Center, Christina found caring and loving counselors and mentors who understood what she was going through. They made sure she had a warm meal every day, that she was safe at night, and did everything possible to find her a home.
Today, Christina has her own apartment in our Independent Living Program, is working on her master’s degree at Howard University, and is even a teacher at a local DC Public School!
At the Independent Living Program (ILP), Christina has found more than just a home.
“At ILP, I have my own unit. Even in undergrad I had a roommate, but this is my own place. My own kitchen, living room, everything!”
Thanks to our generous supports, everything was provided for Christina when she first moved in – brand new sheets, towels, comforters, furniture. She was even able to go grocery shopping.
As for Christina’s counselors, mentors, and advocates… they stand by her side, ready to support Christina on her journey.
But Christina’s story is not over. Most recently, she gave a passionate speech at the kick-off of National Runaway Prevention Month to raise awareness about the issues affecting homeless youth. This spring, she will travel to Ghana on a donor-funded scholarship to learn more about Ghana’s education system and how youth homelessness looks like in the country.
What does Christina wish you can take from her story?
“Youth homelessness does not have a face. You don’t have to look or act a certain way to be homeless. Many in my generation are homeless and don’t even notice it. They are couch surfing and don’t realize that they are homeless.
Anyone at any time can become a victim to homelessness. But just because you experience it, it’s not the end. There are many learning lessons that can get you back on your feet and if you need help, Sasha Bruce Youthwork is here for you.”
Christina’s story is just one of dozens of stories of individual struggle and triumph we have witnessed here at Sasha Bruce in recent months. The generous support we receive from our donors ensures that we can be there for our youth in their greatest moment of need. To each of our generous supporters – thank you!
About the Barracks Row Drop-In Center
Our Drop-In Center is a critical safety net for homeless youth in the DC region providing meals, showers, and counseling services. Thanks to the generous support from our donors, Last year the center provided over 10,000 meals for homeless youth.