Stories from Teens
Who stayed with us at The Door
I stayed at the shelter off and on for awhile. I was living at home, but sometimes I struggle with depression and me and my mom don’t get along so good during those times—so I stay here until we can work it out. Staying here means I can keep my job because I can get enough sleep. I try to encourage the younger guys because I know they need good role models. I try to help them stay sober and stay safe if they’re not. The staff helps us maintain a well-balanced life, and give us words of wisdom so that we don’t give up on ourselves. They help us as if we were one of their own. Being homeless makes you really depressed, but here we are not looked down upon, instead, we are helped so we can one day come out of this. I really appreciate the workers at the “Safe Place” that have helped me.
Update: “M” now has an apartment, a good job, and his daughter is in his life now—an important piece that was missing for him.
“A” would never spend the night at the Shelter. The first week we saw him only a few times–he needed mittens, a warmer hat, and a place to thaw out. We got calls from other agencies describing someone like him–they were worried. “A lot of people care about you.” “Who?” he said. Every time he came by, we repeated, “People care about you.” Then we started seeing him twice a day–seeking food, clothing, and warmth. We let him know he was welcome to stay and offered him dinner. He recently stopped in to say he had reconnected with his mother. She bought him a plane ticket so he could go live with her. He told us, “Thank you for helping me when no one else would. God Bless you,” and he was out the door. Bless you, too, Sir. We pray for and wish you the best!
I started staying at the church (FYA temp shelter) last February. When I was 15, I got kicked out of home because I dropped out of school. My mom said, “you can’t stay here if you’re not in school.” Someone told me about the youth shelter. I didn’t have anywhere else to go. I went back home a bit ago. I’m in school now, but that isn’t why I went back—my mom and I worked things out. We get along so much better now—she thinks I’m the funniest person on the earth. Because I am! I really liked staying at the church. I kind of miss it sometimes, because I loved everyone that works there. But one of the best things about being home? Yeah, the bed is nice, but really its the company. It’s really good to be back with my family. My mom is awesome. Words of wisdom? Stay in school!
I left home in July. I was doing things I shouldn’t have done, and so I got kicked out of my house. My Mom would’ve let me stay, but her landlord wouldn’t. It was really hard. I didn’t know where to go or what to do, so I went online and saw there were two shelters in Fairbanks – the Rescue Mission and Fairbanks Youth Advocates. I saw this one was geared to young people so I decided to come here. I was really overwhelmed because I didn’t know anyone or anything, or what to do. I came in at 1 am and went straight to bed. In the morning, the other kids told me about SOAP and we went over there together, and I found out about other people who could help. I’ve been coming here since July – things are a lot better now. I took care of my court case and got food stamps. That helps a lot because before I had those I’d be so hungry I was stealing food from the store. No one wants to steal. I mean, no one wants to steal to eat. Now I don’t have to. I’ve got everything I need now. I’m back in school at CEC now, and I can stay at my Mom’s on weekends now, so things are getting better. I have friends here, and I don’t have to worry about where I’m gonna stay. It’s a lot better.
I left home in April. My dad had really changed. He used to take care of me – I was totally spoiled – but now he doesn’t do anything, or seems to care anymore. He spends all our money on drugs, and then gets mad when he doesn’t have anything left. He didn’t use to do that. It’s not my fault he spends all his money! He threw me out for good when I wouldn’t give him my PFD. I wouldn’t give him my birth certificate: I knew he would just take the money and blow it. After I left I walked around for a few days. I ended up at the hospital, sleeping in the waiting room. They saw me sleeping and told us about the shelter and called [Safe Place] for a ride. The lady dropped me off and said: “just ring the bell on the corner!” They were really nice. One staff especially – she was really there for me when I first started coming. At first, I didn’t really know anyone or say much, but now it’s like my family. You come in and everyone is nice and its a good place to be. Everyone looks after each other. I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be. Here, I know I can go to school if I want to – they’ll call a cab for me. My dad never cared if I went to school, but I really want to get my diploma. I know I can. Its hard to keep going to school when you don’t have to, and sometimes I don’t want to go. But I know the new shelter is gonna have requirements – you have to be working towards things and going to school and stuff. It means you have to do it if you want to stay there. I’m glad they’ll push me. They’ll help me graduate.
Update, 9/2014 – T. is back home with her Dad. He is taking good care of her, and she is still in school and overall in a very good place. Happy for her!
J came for just an hour the first time. Wary and not sure what to expect, she came to scope us out and see if it was safe for both her and her baby. The following visits to the shelter were similar – each night’s stay was a little longer until finally, they overnighted. Recently, J showed up with a baby and asked for help connecting to community resources. A caring staff said, “This is important to you.” Jessica responded, “All my life I have never been wanted. This baby is going to know she is wanted.” We want the J’s of our community to know they are wanted.
Update: J has reconnected with family and has been able to find stable housing for her and her baby.
I’m from a small village. My mom committed suicide when I was four, and my dad was a drug dealer. She didn’t want me living with him. So I just went from place to place. I’ve been on my own since I was nine and working since I was twelve. I’ve never really had a stable place to live, or parents or anything – I always moved around a lot, on different people’s couches, with friends and family. A year and a half ago, I became really homeless. I couldn’t get a job, and I got into using and selling hard drugs. Meth and heroin. After a few months, I went back to the village to sober up, and then I moved to Fairbanks to get away from all of that. I didn’t have anywhere to go. I went to the Rescue Mission and they told me about this place for teens. I’m really glad this place is here. The staff are great and supportive and caring, they’ve helped me find resources to help, given me food and bus tokens – bus tokens make a big difference. The SOAP program is helping me get my GED and driver’s license, and I stay every night at the safe place [FYA’s Emergency Youth] shelter. My next goal is to get into college. Or to get an apprenticeship. I can’t say enough how great it is that this place is here. Before the safe place opened – I was sleeping here and there, people’s couches and camping and stuff. Now I have a place I can go every night while I work on getting things together.
I like that the workers actually do their best to help us with whatever our needs might be. Also, they push us to strive for excellence by finding a job, going back to school, and just being a better person in general. They make sure we have food in our stomach, also providing us with clothes if we are in need of them. Most of all they make sure we are safe from harm’s way.
– D, male, 19
When my mom threw me out, I didn’t know where to go… I’m glad there’s a place I can stay. I don’t know where I’d be if I couldn’t come here.
– W, male, 18
You come in and everyone is nice and its a good place to be. Everyone looks after each other. There’s nowhere else for me to go – but, you know, there’s nowhere else I want to go.
– T, female, 17