All young people deserve to be surrounded by people that lift them up, and offer a helping hand when they are in need. Unfortunately, not all young people are afforded this basic opportunity that so many of us take for granted.
Sometimes, it's a lifesaving call to our Children's Crisis Outreach Response System. Other times, it's months of intensive case-management to help a young person earn their GED. And other times, its just providing a smile and a high five for making it to the drop-in center on time. The Accelerator YMCA is there to support young people wherever they need it, through whatever challenges they face.
Here is Jaelyn's story, a participant who spoke at our benefit dinner in the fall:
Jaelyn had been in foster care since the age of 6 and lived in nearly a dozen placements until aging out of the system at 18. With $50 to his name, he moved to Seattle in search of a new beginning. Without a support system, he was unable to make it on his own and ended up living on the streets and in temporary shelter for two years.
Jaelyn visited the drop-in center to get connected to resources. Since working with our organization, he has secured safe and stable housing, has been connected with employment opportunities, and meets weekly with our staff to help him stay on track with his goals.
Jaelyn hopes to attend a 4 year college to pursue a business degree. Eventually, he wants to start a business that gives back to children in the foster care system.
In his speech, he said: "Without a helping hand, there's really so much you can do... And I can honestly say if it wasn't for the YMCA, I wouldn't be here. I may not even be alive. They saved my life."
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