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I am Jeanette Williams, a 17 year old resident of the Independent Living Program (ILP) within Sasha Bruce Youthwork.

One year ago my sister Jaleesa told me about a wonderful program that would help me overcome my fears of becoming lost in the world without hope. Five months later I applied and one month later I became a resident. Joining the ILP family was was one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

My life before ILP was choatic, unstable and an emotional roller-coaster. I came into ILPwith the intent to graduate from high school, experience having a family and to be in a healthy environment with love and care. I am currently a high school senior, my expected graduation date is June 13, 2008. I am Senior Class President, a member of the track team, and a squad leader in Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp (JROTC).

Living with my mother has been the hardest life experience ever, and the pain goes on. Having a substance abuser as a parent is difficult for a fourteen 14 year old child. Having to constantly come home and see that the money you have been saving disappeared, or wearing the same school uniform you wore last week the following week because your mother was busy getting high with the money for lanudry. That was my life. Imagine never really getting to know your father because your mother pushed him away because of her drug habit, or just maybe knowing that your mother made your life harder when she was supposed to be making it easier.

Have you ever waken up in the middle of the night scared and alone and your mother wasn’t there to comfort you?

You know I still ask myself today “did my mother love her drugs more than she loved her own children?”

My sister and I have both been victims of of a bad hand being dealt, but we are not complaining we are sticking it out till the end. If it wasn’t for my sister having such a big influence in my life and being so strong for the both of us, I don’t know where I would be right now. My sister Jaleesa has also taught me a lot. She was like a mother figure to me and at the same time she was still being my sister. My sister gave me courage and a voice. She was my motivation because she worked so hard to get where she is now.

ILP welcomed us with open arms. Living with the ILP family has taught me a lot about myself, such as being me, and not being afraid of showing the world who I am, and not to be ashamed about my life because I’m making it and it feels good. As long as I’m happy it doesn’t matter and the best thing of it all is that I am learning to become independent. ILPhas helped me overcome great obstacles in the life of success. All my life I worried about where life would take me and the road to success lead me to Sasha Bruce. Thank you Sasha Bruce for realizing potential in me.

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