They Helped Me Navigate a Desperate Situation with Courage

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Over the past four decades, YouthLink has connected thousands of young people
to the services they need to transform their lives. Many of these young people
leave YouthLink empowered and ready to continue on their journeys of self reliance.
We reconnected with some of our alumni to talk about their experiences
with YouthLink—and where they are now.

Seven months after living with her boyfriend and his mother, Rosetta found herself 18, pregnant, and unsure of how to advocate for herself. Services at the Planned Parenthood in the suburb where she lived were provided on a sliding scale she couldn’t afford, so she took the bus to downtown Minneapolis.

“I think this makes me sound old, but in 2007, there was no Metro Red Line. I had to take the real bus to the Red Door Clinic. When I got there, I was all mixed up. It was closed and I didn’t know where to go. The StreetWorks team was there that day and they told me about the YouthLink clinic.”

Rosetta made her way to the clinic in the basement of the YouthLink building and consulted with a nurse practitioner. “She was really nice and helpful. After she told me I was pregnant, she asked how I felt. I didn’t know what to think. It was scary. I was ill-prepared to be a parent. She told me about all the stuff that was going on upstairs and connected me with a case manager.”

After the meeting with her case manager, Rosetta headed back to Apple Valley. Soon after her first visit, her housing situation began to unravel and she had to rely on the Drop-In Center.

“Drop-In was a safe place for a pregnant girl. While I was there, my case manager helped me with housing applications. Right before I had the baby, I had housing, but, I used my case manager for about a year. That’s what makes YouthLink different. They don’t abandon you. You have a case manager for as long as you’re willing to have them.

“They taught me how to navigate the services. How to advocate for myself. I was in a situation where a doctor was saying inappropriate stuff. I didn’t know how to deal with it. I texted my case manager and she helped me navigate it in real-time. She also helped me file a complaint, so I could hold him accountable. That’s stuff they don’t teach you at school.”

This relationship would never have been possible if Rosetta hadn’t trusted her case manager. She had a hard time accepting help when she first came to YouthLink, but the atmosphere made it easier, “The judgement-free zone was my favorite part. I’ve been to other places where I think ‘I don’t think these people understand me.’ At YouthLink, it never felt like that. It always felt welcoming.”

After she got back on her feet, Rosetta started nursing school and became a nursing assistant. It’s a career that allows her to support her son—who is now 11 years old—and his two younger siblings, but she’s not done yet.

“I’m a caregiver at heart. I plan to finish nursing school in the next two to four years. Being the oldest of eight kids, I always put myself on the back burner. But I’m taking charge of my own life. I want to be a doula and patient consultant. To share my experience with young moms, teaching them about self care. My goal is to make them understand that they shouldn’t be ashamed about accepting help.”

Rosetta says this was one of the most important lessons she learned at YouthLink. “It was a life-changing experience. I’m a different young woman. We get hardened by our situations and we don’t always open up ourselves to help. YouthLink helped me navigate a desperate situation with courage and pride.”

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