For Justin, our home was his first home. His parents divorced when he was two years old and he was raised mostly by his Mom, barely seeing his Dad. Unfortunately, his Mom was verbally and physically abusive and his Dad was even worse. Despite the custody battles and the frequent intervention by Child Protective Services, Justin forged ahead and celebrated his gay identity at a young age.
His parents didn’t accept him. They quoted religious verses and refused to condone his “lifestyle.” And yet, he dreamed of becoming an actor. He wanted community. He wanted to be free and as luck would have it… he found the Center. Justin joined us at our Q-Spot youth drop-in Center and made new friends. He finally found a place to be himself, absent of the trauma of his past.
“There’s some things that I can’t control. Chosen family, setting boundaries with others, and deciding who gets to be in my life and who doesn’t are things I can.”
Justin became more involved. He joined our 2018 cohort to the Creating Change Conference, a consortium of youth LGBTQ+ leaders, and was enamored with the many topics of discussion including the challenges of being an introvert. He also joined our Queer Voices performance group performing spoken word as a form of advocacy, storytelling, and encouraging others to live their truth.
When Justin became housing insecure, he applied and successfully placed in our Transitional Living Program where he found mentorship, career resources, mental health support, and wellness activities. We are proud to report that Justin is now living in his own apartment with a job in tow. We couldn’t be more proud. But all the credit goes to him.
Our 2020 count of our region’s youth experiencing homelessness estimated roughly 700 who didn’t have homes. Of that number, 40% identify as LGBTQ+ and were primarily displaced due to family rejection. Our Transitional Living Program provides six beds for up to two years while our Short-Term Emergency Placement House provides twelve beds for up to ninety days. As much as Justin’s story inspires us, we can do so much more. Help us provide the resources and encouragement for our youngest generations.
When our housing insecure find home and family, there’s nothing that can stop them. Even more, gifts of 500 or more will be matched dollar for dollar by the Nickerson Trust. Take advantage of this offer to give early, give big, and double the impact of your support.
Please consider making a donation this Big Day of Giving on May 6th and continue the critical services we provide.
It’s never to late to change a life!