I was born to a drug addicted teen parent. When I was 4 years old, DCF placed me in kinship care. I would spend most of my childhood enduring abuse of many kinds, some unimaginable. Social workers dismissed the calls from teachers, babysitters and others who knew what was going on. When I was 12, my birth mother regained full custody of me. I would spend the next two years being degraded. I decided I would rather die than spend one more hour living with my mother and attempted to take my life.
I was 14 when I was brought to Anchor House. I remember every minute of that first day. It was the first time in my life I felt safe. I wasn’t afraid of going to sleep at night. I wasn’t afraid of what would happen to me the next day. I was safe. There were people at Anchor House that genuinely cared about me. They not only listened but they heard me and believed me. Anchor House was the only place I truly felt at home. This feeling of home is what I try to give my own kids every day.
There were points in my life when I was a runaway, homeless, and even considered an at-risk youth and Anchor House changed my life. Anchor House was literally a shelter in a storm — a safe haven where I was able to have peace of mind. I was a young scared 15 year old when I first became a client. Anchor House provided me with a place to stay when I had nowhere else to go and no one to take me in.
At Anchor House I received job search assistance and interview preparation that helped me land a full-time salaried job with benefits. They also helped me learn to manage my time, finances, stress and assisted in obtaining housing. Because of the skills and tools I mastered at Anchor House, I transitioned out of their services and never again found myself in a situation where I was homeless. My narrative changed from “at-risk youth” to a strong independent young adult who is able to thrive in both positive and adverse life experiences.
I lost my mother at a young age and was a former foster care youth who was homeless and living in my car until it was towed. I began couch surfing and stayed at a friend’s house until her mental health issues forced me to find a place to live. Through a community referral, I ended up at the Anchorage Transitional Living Program at Anchor House.
The staff at Anchorage was like family to me. They not only provided a safe place to live but helped me get back on my feet, learn how to budget, manage my finances and start college. With the support of the program and staff, I was able to maintain steady employment and eventually graduate from college. Moving forward, I’d like to obtain a master’s degree in social work and help homeless mothers and their children who may have medical issues.
I’m a proud non-binary queer black femme who at the time I stayed at Anchor House I was a confused child being policed and bullied at school and at home for being myself. I ran away from home once before going to Anchor House. My parents didn’t trust therapy or outside services. So after a family breakdown and with the assistance of a school crisis counselor, I received bus fare and took the bus to Anchor House.
Anchor House was a place where I could just be. From movie nights to outings with volunteers to group meals and counseling sessions I have special memories of my short stay. Considering how much of my childhood I blocked out, these memories mean so much to me. I was given the space to gain clarity for who I was and found out who I am. Today I am a college graduate and second grade special education teacher.
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