Jude lives at Shanoa’s Place, one of our long-term residences that provides a home environment and constant support for youth who are working on big goals like school, sobriety, and employment. Jude sat down with us to tell his YESS story, from being scared and newly homeless to feeling confident and looking towards the future. The connections he built with our staff helped him discover his true self and his goals.
What was life like before you came to Shanoa’s Place?
I was isolated and lonely and scared to rebel against my parents and their religion. My family are Jehovah’s Witnesses.
When you first came to Shanoa’s place what was it like?
It was a little scary because I was coming off the streets and I had never been in this situation before, but everyone at the house was very friendly and welcoming.
Can you share one of your first memories of Shanoa’s Place?
I was really sick when I first came to Shanoa’s Place so I immediately went to my room and tried to sleep. I also hadn’t had a private room for a month because I was couch surfing and staying at Nexus [YESS’ overnight shelter]. I remember the occasional screaming and one of the youths knocking on my door saying he wanted to meet the new kid. Little did I know, the screaming came from my roommates yelling at their computer games and my other roommate who just wanted to meet me really bad. I became really good friends with everyone that week.
What are some positive changes that have happened since you’ve been here?
I learned to stand up for myself and I found my self. I learned who I really am and I’m still learning. I’m a lot more confident than before. I’ve also learned how to take care of myself.
How have you learned to take care of yourself?
My parents used to take of everything. They monitored and criticized everything I did. I now have learned how to look for jobs and go to school by myself. I’ve learned how to become motivated.
I also learned how to make friends on my own because I was only ever able to meet Jevoha’s witnesses. I was only allowed to meet “parent-approved friends”.
If you can give advice to younger people who are going through the same thing that you did, what advice would you give them?
Think for yourself. When you’re raised in a certain situation it can be scary to remove yourself from the bubble but you have to think for yourself. I’m infinitely more happy on my own. So do what makes you happy. There isn’t any point in life if you don’t do what makes you happy.
What do see for yourself in the future. What goals do you want to accomplish?
I want to continue to grow and find myself. One day I’d like to have kids of my own and show them that there’s more to life than being a sheep. I want to teach them from a young age to think for themselves. People shouldn’t have to go through all the pain of facing homelessness and being separated from the family in order to think for themselves and make their own choices.
You can make a difference in the lives of youth during the holiday season and all year round at YESS.org/YESSishome.