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My name is Jaleesa. I am a 16-year old woman residing in the Sasha Bruce Youthwork Independent Living Program. This is my story.

Prior to coming to Sasha Bruce, I was a stressed and uncontrollable adolescent. I lived from place to place. The dreams I once had vanished. Trying to survive on the streets became my number one concern. I became a drug abuser, I stopped attending school, I started having unprotected sex, and I started getting involved in gangs.

I cannot speak for anyone else, but only for myself. When growing up, I was a brilliant student and kept good grades, but when no one seemed to care, eventually I stopped caring. All I needed was someone to be there when I needed them; someone to push me to my full ability; someone to give me a hug. I needed someone to talk to; someone to say “I love you”. I believe that when these things are present within a home, nothing can go wrong. That’s how I know Sasha Bruce was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Here at Sasha Bruce’s Independent Living Program, I finally have a home. My whole perspective on life has changed. I now accept myself as graceful and confident. I now believe my hopes and dreams will come true one day.

I am practicing self-sufficiency, taking greater responsibility, and gradually becoming independent. I am an honor roll student. Sasha Bruce has encouraged me to utilize my greatest asset – my mind – be positive, think success, take action, be persistent, stay focused, be different, take responsibility. Sasha Bruce has given me the opportunity of a lifetime for which I am truly blessed.

If only all troublesome teens had a home like me. I’m sure they would forget about the street life and become the people they always wanted to be.

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