|Donate Now! >>||Home||About Us||Our Programs||Meet Our Youth||Get Involved||News||Events||Related Links|
Each youth who is homeless has a distinct history, personal challenges and triumphs, a unique story to tell. We thank the four youth who allowed us to share their stories. Names have been changed to respect their privacy.
“To the world, you are just one person, but to one person, you just might mean the world.”
Five years ago, Charles came to TLP feeling like there was no place for him to go and nothing he could do. At Belfort House, he “met a whole family I didn’t even know about, people who embraced me with open arms.” While at TLP, he graduated high school, started college, and landed a job. Today, Charles is a supervisor at the University of Illinois Medical Center and is studying to become a massage therapist. “I still have dreams,” he says. “As a TLP alum, I want to help young people who are homeless to understand that this is not the end for them. They need to know there are people who care about them and want them to succeed. There are new beginnings they cannot even imagine.”
“I’ve always been the type of person who wanted to help others. It’s my passion.”
Friends describe her as happy, bubbly, excitable. But Theresa didn’t always feel that way. “I used to be very negative, but I found that I needed to re-route my thinking. It’s been true for me that if I think good thoughts, good things come to me.” In her two years at TLP, she earned her high school diploma from the AmSeanan School, a correspondence program that enables students to work at their own pace; landed employment; and graduated into TLP’s independent living program, CaSSA. She was recently promoted as a trainer at Potbelly’s, a job that “allows me to shine.” The next steps on her path are to complete the SATs, begin college, and ultimately become a nurse or social worker. “Theresa is a natural caregiver,” TLP staff agree. “She’ll be marvelous!”
“If I could give any gift, it would be motivation to other youth who have been in the same predicament as me.”
experience at TLP is evidence that each youth’s journey to self-sufficiency is unique. Change is incredibly difficult, and it is only through unyielding determination and the support of a loving community that one can alter the course of one’s life. In her two years at TLP, Rose has triumphed over fear and has become capable of consistently making good choices and sticking with them. Currently, Rose lives with her brother, has just started a new job, and is enrolled in TLP’s after-care program, Shoulder-to-Shoulder, which provides supportive services like counseling, a bus pass, and Internet access, as she transitions to independent living.
“When I’m at the bottom, when things aren’t going well, I get motivated by seeing what I’m doing in the future. That gets me going again.”
Robert’s extraordinary motivation drove him to leave the only place he knew, to break free of a life of trouble to find something better. Ten months into his stay at Belfort House, he had a solid job, was enrolled in a GED program, and was well on his way to achieving his goals when he became the unintended victim in a shooting. He lost his job and missed school, but those who know him agree that Robert is “perseverance personified.” He is almost completely recovered, has secured a new job, and is back on his road self-sufficiency.
“You have to look past hard times, take them as experience.”
Sean came all the way through the ranks of TLP, and quickly! Just two years ago, he arrived at TLP’s Bronzeville Shelter for minors, fleeing an abusive father. A few months later, he moved into Belfort House, resumed his education at an alternative high school, and graduated with a B average. With the help of TLP staff, he found a job where he is still employed. After only nine months at Belfort, Sean had saved enough money to apply to CaSSA, TLP’s independent living program. Now living on his own, his next goal is to become a licensed massage therapist. His words of advice to teens who are homeless or in unworkable home situations: “These hard times are temporary and will make you appreciate life so much more when it is good. Don’t let anyone get in the way of your dreams.”