I was a preteen when my mom discovered I was gay. I wasn’t ready for it to happen the way it did. The next thing I knew, I was arguing with my mom, trying to convince her that being gay is not a phase.
After that, I ran away and was homeless on and off for the next nine years. I learned quickly how to survive. I slept in parks, in friend’s houses or backyards. Occasionally I stayed in shelters, but after being sexually abused, I couldn’t go back.
After graduating high school, I had my first grand mal seizure and spent the next four days in a coma. Besides epilepsy, I also developed schizophrenia – it was hard during this time to get a grasp on reality. I moved around and worked whatever jobs I could find, but for the most part I remained homeless, without the medical support I needed.
[HomeRise] changed my life trajectory. Last year, I found a home at the Edward II Apartments, which houses 24 formerly homeless young people. I love it. It’s quiet; you can actually see some stars, and I live near the water. We have a mindfulness group and do yoga.
[HomeRise] helped me become an active member of society. I have a home. I pay rent. I volunteer.
I participated in the Learning Academy, which trained me to be a front desk clerk. Then, I was hired to work at [HomeRise’s] Social Enterprise: Solutions SF. Solutions SF is more than just a job – it’s a program that teaches you to keep a job. After Solutions SF, I found full-time employment with benefits as a desk clerk. [HomeRise] gives everyone a chance, no matter their background, and supports them in a way other programs don’t.
The support I’ve received has given me a sense of self-worth. I’m proud to be at a place where I’m thinking about myself and taking care of myself. I eat better and exercise. All of this has helped me to cut down on my seizures from multiple times every day to only one or two per month. I don’t know where the future will lead, but I’d love to be a case manager and help others. “All of my experiences, no matter how challenging, brought me to this point. I’m happy.“