Youth Stories

These Feet Are Made For Walking

The feet you see in the picture above belong to someone who has been living on the streets since she was 9 years old. Trinity was adopted by a family that used her as a courier for drugs. They would fill her child’s backpack with cocaine, or whatever drug had been purchased, and send her out to deliver them – mainly to older men – exposing her to almost unimaginable dangers. On her own from such a young age, she depended on a gang for protection and a sense of family.

Perhaps because of her childhood and time on the streets, she seems to have developed an instinct for knowing which people around her may need her protection. I watched today as she shared her understanding of how things work on the street in order to help someone new avoid getting into a situation that was way over their head. From there, she went to the side of a young man who seemed grateful for her reassuring presence as he considered an offer of housing.

In the short time I spent with her today, Trinity exuded strength and fierce loyalty, but what struck me most was her sensitivity and deep compassion. She lamented being immediately judged just for being homeless, recounting times when mothers have shielded their children from her. “They assumed I was going to hurt them, but I really love kids.”

With the help of Stand Up for Kids, Trinity, who is now 19, has recently moved into housing. She plans to begin attending community college in the Fall where she will be pursuing studies in mental health and journalism.

A quiet thought: If you would like to help provide assistance for kids like Trinity, please visit our donation page here and click on the 'donate' button. Even a small donation could make a world of difference. THANK YOU!

Shadowed by Others: A Story on Youth Homelessness

By Holden Adams

Gemini, Taurus, Ursa Major and Minor, and Orion. Five constellations that light up the night sky. With a soft breeze flowing overhead and soft damp grass pressed against my back, I stare up at them; the orbs of light in an otherwise darkened world. Beginning to feel a tightness in my chest, my breathing being rather shallow, I shift slightly before reaching over to my neighbor’s radio and turning it on, letting gentle piano music fill the air. I’ve heard that we can only see a small portion of stars because of light pollution and some other things. Guess some stars are just meant to burn brighter than others. I let a hand slide down my jacket, brushing over the stains, holes, and small tears it’s gained over the years. I got a new one several years ago, but I can’t bring myself to part with it. Too many memories, mostly bad but there are some good ones too. The time I patched all the holes in my tent so I could remain dry when it’s raining, moving into a new community, one where everyone looks out for one another, having my first child. It’s been with me all this time.

A shudder runs through me as the breeze picks up a little. I should get some iron supplements. A shake of the head. No, I can’t afford them. There’s a moment’s pause before I reach over, pulling the blanket I brought with me over my body. Spending a couple seconds adjusting it, I lay back down on the grass, looking back up at the stars. A whole nother world out there, just beyond what we can see. But sometimes people are happy with what’s right in front of them. They stare at the stars but aren’t seeing the whole picture, making their own assumptions and content with what they are, even if they’re wrong. They’re not willing to give the other stars a chance to shine in their own right. Rolling over onto my side, I close my eyes. While I’m only fifteen feet away from my tent, this place is as good as any. The faint rustling of leaves, the tapping of the keys of the piano, the rock-free ground beneath me.

If I was… No, if my son was a star, I wish he’d be part of Ophiuchus. Not a constellation many people notice but vast and filled with unknown brilliance. He’d be accepted into a larger whole, a community where he can feel safe, not participating in the ever-present fight for survival. A place where he can grow and become his true self. Be who he wants to be and live his life to the fullest. An unlikely dream, but it doesn’t hurt to try. If I could give him everything he needs to succeed, he’d shine, pushing past all the others and finally be recognized by other people as worthy of their attention. He always has been. Then, he’d be a guide for others to follow. More and more stars would start appearing in the sky, each glowing their own light, their own stories. It would all be thanks to the new star of Ophiuchus.

- Delphine, age 17

 Jonathan's Story

“I don't really remember much about my childhood. What I do remember is all the hurt and how much I am a disappointment to them. Anytime I tried to do good and have my family be proud of me…. Well, it did not matter what I did. I am a failure and a disappointment in their eyes.”

The words above and the hands in this picture belong to a young man who is well-practiced at hiding the pain and loss he carries with him. Jonathan, who is now 20, went into foster care at 3 years old when he and his 4 year old sister were discovered eating food off the floor of the filthy home they shared with their mom.

Jonathan and his older sister eventually went to live with their grandparents. It’s clear when he talks about his grandmother how much he loved her. “I felt safe when I was with her.” Unfortunately, when he turned 12, his grandfather began beating him. While his grandmother would step in to protect him, she wasn’t always fast enough. To make matters worse, during this same time, his sister became suicidal. He was repeatedly the one who prevented her from killing herself. He saw it as his duty.

Then the unthinkable happened. He came home from school one day to discover his grandmother slumped in her wheelchair. He watched helplessly as the paramedics unsuccessfully tried to resuscitate her. With his grandmother gone, his world fell apart.

After almost 5 years of living on the street, with support and encouragement from the team at StandUp for Kids, Jonathan is now ready to step onto a new, more hopeful path. He will soon be heading to Job Corps where he will get the training he needs to become a mechanic, as well as the stability of room and board, a living allowance, clothing, and health care while he trains. We are all so very proud of him!

JUST A THOUGHT - If you would like to help provide assistance for kids like Jonathan, please visit https://www.standupforkids.org/thurston-county/donate and click on the 'donate' button. Even a small donation could make a world of difference. THANK YOU!

Who Is This Girl?

Who am I? Just another woman working and living. If someone had asked me a month ago, "hey Deb, you think you will ever be sitting on the street amongst trash and God only knows what else talking to a young homeless girl sleeping on the sidewalk?" Oh hell no, but I joined a volunteer group that does outreach for homeless youth. It was not my idea to wake this young lady, talk to her, and try to console her. Nope. But the mentor I have in this group tells me go talk to her, softly, let her know we care, we want to help, things like that. I am thinking, really? She does not even know me! What am I supposed to say?

Well, trying to talk to her while she is lying down on this dirty sidewalk and me standing up over her was not going to work. So, I sat down besides her. At first, I am like "OK, what the hell can this strange lady say to this young girl?" I don’t know what happened, but it just started flowing from my heart. I found out how depressed she was, she told me no one loved her, not her mom, not her dad. She said that she doesn't want to try anymore; that nothing is going to change. She hah lost all her hope to live anymore. I am looking at her and thinking "oh my god, this is someone’s daughter, sister, friend! I've gotta help her!" So, I did what always works with a kid...I got her a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder! We spent three different times yesterday together with her laughing, crying, talking and sleeping as I would give her head massages. I don’t know if I or this group will be able to get her off the streets or get her on a path that a young lady should be on, but I do know that what we can do is give her love and prove to her there are people who care about her and show her that she is worthy and valued!

Who is this girl?