The journey of a homeless high school graduate

Our hope at Outreach is to truly help these young adults achieve life transformation.  This is the story of one young lady we got to know through our GOAL Program …

Lisa* was born to a sixteen year old mother.  She lived with her mom until 6 months of age.    Lisa’s mother struggled to care for her properly being young and without adequate resources: job, home, or transportation.  Her great aunt took custody of Lisa and cared for her until she was four.  At that time, her mom came and took custody of her until age 11.  During that time, Lisa moved a lot as her mom struggled to maintain a permanent residence and stable home life.  Her mom became involved in drugs.  Lisa’s mom was arrested on occasions and struggled with addiction during her childhood.  When Lisa was 11, her grandmother gained custody of her and her three siblings.  Lisa stayed there and was able to see her mom from time to time as she would come live with them and other times not make her whereabouts known.  Her addictions resulted in her mom spending time in and out of jail.   Lisa stayed with her grandmother until age 15.  Mom was able to provide a place for them temporarily at times but never managed to overcome her addictions. Lisa has lived with her grandmother, aunt, and father since I (her case manager) have known her.  Each situation presents its own set of demons.  Her grandmother, although loving and willing to care for them, had the pressure of providing for four children and it made for a tense household.  Her father, having a new family, had responsibilities and it left Lisa feeling like an outsider and a burden.  Lisa felt she got what was left over.  The last move was with her aunt that lives in Pike Township. Her aunt has tried to be a constant support in her life and has been instrumental in her graduating from high school. However, she was very strict and did not allow Lisa to have the typical teen age experience… probably for fear that she would make the same mistakes her mom did.

Lisa’s initial referral to me came from the social worker at school, my first visit with Lisa revealed she was wearing a pair of shoes that were too small and causing great discomfort.   Lisa kept her personal life and struggles very private so no one was aware of this.  The school’s social worker and I helped Lisa get new uniform clothing and a pair of sneakers.

This past April, Studio 57 sponsored senior pictures day for all graduating seniors at Outreach, Inc.  It was an awesome event that provided photos for our seniors.  Lisa was able to come but unlike most of the youth, had nothing nice to wear and her hair was not done.  The team rallied together and provided her with clothing to wear and a stylist was present to do her hair.  Very simple things like this is what youth that are homeless miss and leave them feeling unloved and unable to have a normal high school experience.

On another occasion, near mother’s day, Lisa acknowledged Mother’s Day approaching.  I asked whether she had seen mom recently.  Lisa replied no.  But stated she would buy her a gift anyway and attempt to find her because she loves her.  What an amazing display of unconditional love!  Lisa’s mom is currently in an abusive relationship.  On one occasion, Lisa witnessed an argument between them and her mom’s significant other stating, “I took you from the streets living a low existence, selling your body and doing whatever you needed to get your drugs and when I leave you’re going right back to the streets.”  Lisa was hurt and disappointed that her mom did exactly that when the relationship ended!  Once again her mom is on the road to recovery.  I met her, a very pleasant, nice looking woman and one would not suspect an addict at initial impression.  Lisa’s mom thanked me and all of Outreach, Inc for being a support in Lisa’s life.  Let’s hope and pray this time it is a definite and permanent step to sobriety.

Currently, Lisa has graduated from Pike High School.  Her plans are to attend a beauty college in the fall.

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