I am the oldest of six. The six of us had always lived alone with our Dad in Maryland, just outside of Washington D.C. near the Suitland Parkway. Unfortunately, my Dad lost his job.
My family moved out of our apartment into the attic of a family friend for about a year. Eventually we left the friend’s attic. My Dad put us up in hotels for while and then we stayed wherever we could for about a year. Thank goodness, my Father was accepted into a family shelter in Virginia. The bad news was that my name was not listed in the case management file. I was not permitted to join my family. It was 2012 and I was on my own at 15.
I was comfortable in the neighborhood near the high school that I attended in Washington, D.C. so that is where I stayed. At night I slept on a bench behind the school. I ate the school lunch every day and some days that was it. Sometimes friends of mine would let me stay over at their houses. That was good for me because then I did not have to be on the street at night. I graduated from High School in 2016 and no one knew that I was homeless. I never told anyone.
One day when I was out on the streets someone from the outreach team from another shelter asked me if I needed any help. I finally told someone and they began to help me. Even though I had graduated, I went back to my high school and told my school social worker. She gave me a list of programs that supported homeless youth. Sasha Bruce Youthwork was on that list. I immediately went to the Sasha Bruce Drop-In Center and completed a housing assessment. I also applied for a job as a peer health educator with the Sasha Bruce POWER program and got the job!
In December of 2016 I got into a year-long transitional housing program at another shelter until December of 2017. When my year was up with, friends of mine allowed me to stay with them for a short period time. On Valentine’s Day of this year I was able to move into the Sasha Bruce Independent Living House. Since I entered the Sasha Bruce Drop-In Center in 2016, I secured safe housing, employment, and career training opportunities.
My work as POWER peer health educator with Sasha Bruce made me interested in the medical field. The Sasha Bruce staff encouraged me to explore other options in the field and now I am enrolled in school and receiving medical assistant training with a graduation date set for the April 2019, the week of my 22nd birthday. The staff at Sasha Bruce Youthwork helped me most with housing and developing a career interest and I will appreciate them and the help they have giving me forever.