This Isn’t Going To Last Forever; You’ll Get Where You Want To Be
Over the past four decades, YouthLink has connected thousands of young people to the services they need to transition from homeless to hopeful. Many of these young people graduate from 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 to find out where they are now.
Ten years ago, Jordin was introduced to YouthLink by a friend she had met on the streets of Minneapolis. Her first experience with our organization was filled with a lot of uncertainty: “I was really nervous. I felt like a country girl in a big city and didn’t really know what to expect. All the help I had gotten as a teenager . . . wasn’t really help. But YouthLink wasn’t like that. Everybody was really warm.”
She never imagined how much that first day would transform her path. Even the years since becoming a YouthLink alum have been shaped by her time with YouthLink’s staff and other clients. “A lot has happened. I’ve gotten married. I’ve fostered and adopted children. I didn’t think that would ever happen. But I adopted children from another YouthLink client. We were great friends. She went one way. I went another. When the kids went into foster care, my wife and I were in a position where we could step in.
“They’re ten, nine, five, and four, now. When I met their mother, the ten-year-old was one and the nine-year-old was a baby. It was hard to think about never seeing them again. I’ve always really loved the kids and I couldn’t imagine letting them be split up.”
Part of her selfless act was motivated by Jordin’s own time in foster care. “When I was 10, I lived with my mom and she was heavily into drugs and alcohol—partying and leaving me home for long periods of time. So I went into foster care. I was jumping from home to home. I was never in a home long enough to make a connection. I was running away a lot. Once I turned 18, I was fed up with the system. They told me if I ran away again, they wouldn’t take me back. I ran away, and that’s how I became homeless.”
Jordin notes there aren’t a lot of programs for those who have aged out of the foster system, so she was happy to find an organization like YouthLink. “It felt like they had so many resources [for people my age]. They helped with my GED and getting an ID.”
As her needs changed, YouthLink’s role in her life shifted as well. “It just depended what part of my life I was in. I started at 18 and I didn’t really stop needing their services until I was 24. In the beginning, it was just the fact that I didn’t have to worry there. I could just relax for a few hours, play games, eat something, watch TV, be warm. It was a distraction from the real world. Even toward the end when I was trying to get my life together, I had a car to stay in but I didn’t have a shower. I had aged out, but they let me come shower or grab something to eat.”
Jordin’s desire to make a difference in the lives of people who have fallen between the cracks extends far beyond her new family. “I’d like to work for an organization like YouthLink. My major right now is human services. I have so many connections in this area because of my time with them. And as far as all the organizations I’ve been involved with, YouthLink has the broadest reach for young people. They actually help without pushing. It’s just a good place.”
As she prepares for her new career, Jordin would like young people experiencing homelessness to know “this isn’t going to last forever. As long as you put the work in, you’ll get to where you want to be. You have to think about the day-to-day. You have to add a little bit at a time. Pace yourself. It’s stressful and hard, but it’s not the rest of your life.”
At YouthLink, we agree with Jordin that it’s the day-to-day that makes the difference of a lifetime—and that even the smallest of actions can build to great things over time. Thank you for every little thing you do, helping us to do big things together.
Although we can’t introduce you to every young person who comes through our doors, we truly appreciate how much you care. Your donations and volunteer support have made the past 40 years possible—and are the fuel we need to keep going into the future. To make a donation to YouthLink, please log on to https://donate.youthlinkmn.org/YouthLinkMN.