Adopt-a-kid program - 2011 Yearbook
Life House launched the “Adopt-A-Kid” program in 2011 as a way to educate the community about the trials facing our at-risk youth, while providing an opportunity to financially support the programs and services provided by Life House. During the year, Life House featured the unique stories of 12 local teens and the role that Life House has played in changing their life. These are their stories. Help us create more success stories, consider joining the Adopt-A-Kid program today!
Our Featured Kids
January - Ashley's Story
Six month old Tayshawn has a home with his mom, Ashley at a home provided by Life House. Ashley could only dream of a bright future until she stepped through the doors of Life House. Ashley lived in 10 foster care homes since her first birthday. At age 18 she was surviving an abusive relationship and living on the streets. As a homeless teen mom, her greatest fear was losing Tayshawn.
Ashley’s words echo the plight of many homeless teens, “We’re just kids who get forgotten. We’re supposed to be grown-ups but we don’t know how... We need help BEFORE we get older.”
With direction, support, and resources from Life House staff, Ashley is on course for a future anchored with a solid education, housing resources, and employment. She’s determined to graduate from high school this spring through an alternative learning program, with plans to attend Lake Superior College. Ashley’s new job is key to navigating through future financial challenges and providing a stable home for her son….something Ashley never had.
In January 2011, you met Ashley. Today, Ashley is a 21 year old mother of 2 who is living independently. After working with Life House staff to graduate from high school, she continued working with them in the "Futures" program to obtain valuable life skills that would assist her in obtaining employment and maintaining a household for her family. Ashley is a successful graduate from the Life House Program, is currently employed by Hampton Inn, and has an apartment of her own. Ashley is well on her way to breaking the cycle of abuse and neglect that she suffered for years. Congratulations Ashley - job well done!!!
February- Matt's Story
“I’d rather sleep on the streets than ask for help. That’s just where I was at the time.” Matt had a difficult falling out with his parents and was left to figure out life on his own. He had been forced to take up an adult role before ever graduating high school and had to find a place to live, find and secure a job to pay for rent and support himself, and still attempt to finish high school. Between losing jobs and being evicted because of inability to pay rent, Matt’s life bounced from job to jobless, homeless shelter to homelessness, social service to social service. What Matt did not know was that his life was about to cross paths with one very unique organization.
“If I didn’t come here, there is no way I could be where I am today.” Today at 20 years old, Matt has been accessing continuous support, services, and care from the Life House team members since he discovered the non-profit. Like many his age this day in age, he is just looking for a stable job he can work to sustain himself. Fortunately, Life House has been able to help him find housing with another local non-profit agency. Team members have also assisted him in bettering his chances of getting a job by doing mock interviews. He is now working on his education as well thanks to help of Life House.
“It stands up to its saying, ‘Open doors.’ They help as much as possible and genuinely care.”
March- Mary's Story
Mary moved to Duluth as a child with her mother, who suffers from mental health issues. As a teen, Mary’s social worker suggested she take time for herself. That’s when Mary found out about Life House.
Mary began taking part in S.O.S. classes offered in the Life House Youth Drop-in Center, and started earning credit toward her high school diploma. Shortly after, Mary found herself without a safe place to live, and connected with a Life House case manager for help with setting safe housing goals.
“Now I’m living in a Life House apartment, I’m working on completing high school, and I’m going to enroll in the Nursing Program at Lake Superior College.”
NOTE: Mary was recently featured in an update story on March of 2013. She is now living independently, employed and working on school. Click here to see the her story.
April- Catie's Story
In and out of over 10 foster care homes, “I would be homeless,” 19 year old Catie explained when asked where she would be without Life House.
Catie, attempting to avoid an abusive relationship, originally found refuge at the Save Haven Shelter for Battered Women. Though she had the desire for a better life for herself, it was unclear as to where these resources existed for her to help her get back on her feet. Because of a lack of employment and rental history, the current of success flowed against her. It was then her cousin introduced her to Life House.
“I moved to Duluth with my cousin and a friend told me about Life House and showed me where it was.” With the help of Life House, Catie is now on a track to become a strong, contributing community member. She is now fully able to continue her education at Lake Superior College and achieve her dream of becoming a paralegal.
“All I ever wanted was for someone to care about me – to want me to be around. Life House is that place for me. It is a life changing experience and I wish there were places like this everywhere, because I truly believe a lot of teens would take advantage of it.”
May- Jimmy's Story
“If you don’t have anything, you’ll do anything to get something.”
Since a young child, Jimmy has battled to maintain his sobriety. At age 14, Jimmy was smoking pot with his sister. By age 16 he was buying and stealing pills. As a teen, Jimmy faced an ultimatum at home – get treatment or get out.
Homeless, Jimmy bounced from a friend’s basement to his drug dealer’s couch. Feeling hopeless, Jimmy finally walked into a treatment facility. Despite sobriety for eight months, Jimmy was again kicked out of his home.
With nothing to lose, Jimmy was introduced to Life House. With support from Life House staff, Jimmy found safe housing and counseling to help with his sobriety. Jimmy also found tutoring on-site for help with finishing high school.
“Without Life House I would be homeless. They helped me put my life together. They were there for me. They cared.”
UPDATE! Jimmy is now employed and living independently. Click here for his updated story.
June- Raven's Story
It is a difficult task to progress in life if you are unable to have a consistent, safe place to call home. Raven has battled finding safety in her life for as long as she can remember, living with her father, then with a friend, then with a boyfriend (who nearly killed her), then fleeing to avoid abuse and having no other option than couch surfing.
“I have been taking care of myself for two years now.” Raven heard about Life House from her father. She was in desperate need of somewhere safe to call her own. Through the housing department of Life House she was hooked up with a safe place to live. Because stability was beginning to shape in her life from the help Life House gave her, she’s now attending classes at Lake Superior College with hopes of becoming a flight attendant.
“I am now working on my goals and paying it forward by helping out Life House with whatever I can.” When Raven was asked where she would be if it weren’t for Life House, she responded, “More than likely be on the streets and probably with a kid.” Raven is a graduate now from the Life House program and is living independently in her own apartment.
July- Shanise's Story
For years, Shanise was struggling with keeping a safe, secure place for herself and her twin boys. After an eviction she took her children from one friend’s apartment to another. She eventually began staying with her boyfriend, who was abusing her.
The night she found herself on the streets in the rain, with her boys in their sleepers, she knew things had to change. She needed help from her family, but help could not be found. “My mom was out in the streets, we didn’t have any other family. Then my mom’s friend said, ‘You should go to Life House.’”
Today, Shanise and her two boys have their own safe apartment in the Life House transitional housing program. Shanise has returned to school, and also meets with the Life House counselor to help build her resilience as a single mom.“Life House has given me stability, what I lacked when I was growing up. I didn’t know who I was until my teen years. My boys, I want them to know who they are.”
August- Rose's Story
"I hit rock bottom. I was homeless, unemployed, and bouncing from house to house."
Rose reached a desperate point in her life when she lost her job, with little savings or support. Soon, the money was gone. Without family or friends to turn to - lost and scared - she was forced to live off the generosity of strangers.
Homeless, sleeping wherever she could, Rose found it hard to collect her thoughts and focus on her goals. It was then when a family friend introduced her to Life House.
"I found out Life House could help me get my own apartment - a place where I could be independent."
With a safe place to live and support from Life House staff, Rose focused on her goals of finding a job and finishing school. Rested and healthy, Rose started rebuilding her strength and self-confidence. Soon, Rose noticed new doors of opportunity were opening up for her.
"Life House helped me buy the things I needed for my apartment. Now, I am working with Life House to get back into college."
September - Andrew's Story
“My mom told me to find my own place. Otherwise, I would be homeless.”
Andrew was living with his mother when she decided to move in with her boyfriend. Andrew, however, was not allowed to move with his mother. Just out of high school – without a job or any money to support himself – Andrew was afraid he would soon be on the streets.
It was then when a local resource told Andrew about Life House.
“Life House helped me get my own apartment, and even helped me get a job to pay for my bills.”
Andrew worked with Life House staff to secure a deposit and first month’s rent for his own apartment. Andrew also worked with Life House to build his job skills, eventually finding a job with a local employer.
“Without Life House I would be homeless. They even helped me find funding for college.”
October - Sarah's Story
“As I now look back on everything, I realize I was crying out for help.”
Sarah’s father passed away when she was 5 years old. Her mother did her best to provide for her. However, long hours at work kept her mother out of the home much of the time and the death of her father left her feeling alone, empty, confused and abandoned.
Sadly, she turned to the streets for comfort. For Sarah, drugs, alcohol, and violence became replacements for family. By the age of 14, Sarah turned to a boyfriend for love and support. They did not have stable housing or income and moved around a lot - traveling between shelters, friend’s basements, and even a pop-up camper with two other kids.
Sarah’s first visit to Life House was in 2007. She and her boyfriend heard about it through some friends so they decided to check it out. Unfortunately, Sarah’s boyfriend had become abusive and controlling. Fearing he would lose her if they got help, he refused to return, calling it “a waste of time.”
For reasons only she knows, Sarah finally broke up with her boyfriend in January of 2011. After years of torment and surrender, Sarah questioned her ability to make it in the world. She was educated on the streets and her methods of survival were often times less than “conventional.” She felt the same feelings of loneliness and confusion she had when she was a young girl at home. However, this time it was different. She was not 14 anymore and realized that there was a better way to live. She immediately returned to Life House for help.
“I would be on the street, maybe under a bridge or a tree. I would be hungry and helpless if I didn’t have a place like Life House to turn to.”
Sarah is now participating in several of the Life House programs including those offering education in housing, employment, and mental health. She has a stable job, an apartment, and hopes to start college soon where she plans to study Forensic Science and Criminal Justice.
“Life House helped me find my independence. There is no way I could have done it without their support.”
November - Michial's Story
“At first, when I came to Life House it was for the food. Then I started using the services.”
Michial, age 20, is a quiet young Menominee man who has lived through dangers, mostly by himself. These experiences have made him grateful for Life House, and for the other kids that visit each day – some struggling against the same forces he has battled – abandonment, drugs, alcohol .
“Life House services – the food, housing, employment, education – meeting with my case manager has helped me work toward my goals.”
At Life House, Michial gets a healthy meal each day and the support he needs to progress toward his goals. Michial meets twice weekly with Life House staff, earning a small stipend while continuing work toward his GED.
“Life House is helping build my motivation to take on life responsibilities.”
Today Michial lives at the Arrowhead House, a treatment facility that helps him work on his addictions, strengthen himself, and learning more about the Ojibwe culture. He visits Life House each day so he can eat before going to bed. For Michial, Life House is a safe place that offers young people a sense of family.
“At Life House, there’s someone to talk to for help. There’s someone there with you.”
Recently, Michial secured employment at the Kitchie Gammie Club in Duluth!
December - Ginseng's Story
“It could be your kids who are here,” says Ginseng.
Hard times can hit anyone, and when a kid is knocked loose from family they need someone to step up and take a family’s place. That’s what Life House has done for her.
She’s a focused and hard-working kid, rapidly becoming a young adult. She has a job, is attending college, and learning, every day, about how to exert the discipline that makes for successful adulthood.
When Ginseng came to Life House she found the teaching and support she needed. She’s enrolled in the housing program, living in one of Life House’s apartments and learning what she needs to know to be a good tenant; she’s working at her job and studying criminal justice.
“A job, school, a place to stay-- it’s a lot if you’re young, trying to stay on the right path. Life House helps keep it together. I know if I stay motivated, I can build a future. I am a focused person, striving for that goal--and coming here, they support that. If you show you are willing to put in effort they show the same thing. They give you more ideas, they open up the path. They start you off so you can finish it.”
She’s a little amazed, still, that there’s a place that cares about kids, and that will stick with her: “There’s some sense that people care. Twenty-one is the age limit, but people here say I can always come back to talk to them.”