Last month we shared part one of Rayshaye’s story of childhood challenges and growing into a young adult.This month we will share how she is working to overcome her trauma and become a future leader.
During her time in her second foster home, Rayshaye rebelled against the rules and that eventually led to her being homeless: “In my second foster home, she (foster mom) found out that I was smoking marijuana. They wanted to put me in a substance abuse program and they acted like I was a completely different person. I was upset because I was still the same person, working, going to school and bringing home good grades. This was just something I was doing on the side.”
By this time Rayshaye was 18 and had a 10 p.m. curfew that she staunchly opposed. In hindsight she sees the error in her actions. “I admit that I messed up because I was with a wonderful lady. She was very spiritual and I was just not ready for that. I ran away and she did not give me a second chance. I thought I deserved more chances but she told me she did not want me influencing the other child she had in house.” This incident led to Rayshaye becoming homeless.
“I was on the street and living from place to place. At this time my caseworker was on maternity leave so she really could not do anything to help me. They appointed me another caseworker and I moved in with a friend but that did not work out either,” said Rayshaye.
Eventually Rayshaye was moved to a transitional living home for more stability and to start on a path to independence.
Although she has experienced some troubles, Rayshaye has remained committed to UCAN’s programming since being introduced to
“When I first joined it was just for the money. It later became more about self-awareness and self-improvement. When I became more familiar with the program and started opening up more I actually liked the program.”
She continued, “I get more out of the experiences and trips and talking with people. DFLN has changed me a lot. I used to be so shy and did not want to talk in front of people. I still get nervous but not so much. I have gained a support system and met a lot of wonderful people.”
“I love everyone in DFLN. Everyone gets along. I don’t want to stereotype my peers but it is nice to have people in my age group get together and have discussions without arguing. It is a group of very intelligent young people who going somewhere in life. I have made a couple of friends from DFLN,” she noted.
“Being in DFLN makes me feel like people are actually noticing me and listening what I have to say. I feel like DFLN gave me a good sense of what I want to do and how I want to do it. It has become a very positive influence for me.”
After turning 21, Rayshaye aged out of UCAN’s Transitional Living Program and although she has experienced other struggles, she is back on the right path and determined to again start pursuing her goals.
Rayshaye plans to utilize UCAN’s Alumni Services Program to get help with housing and other support services. “I’ve been filling out applications and plan to get back in school for mortuary science. I am just looking for a good job and trying to stay happy and get in a place where I am secure. UCAN as a whole has really changed me. UCAN has been my parent. Everyone has been there for me in the best way that they know how and I appreciate all of it,” Rayshaye explained.
“I feel like UCAN is amazing. There are so many opportunities for the youth. You can connect with a lot of people. They are supportive in whatever it you are trying to do. There are services to help you achieve that goal. It is an important organization and provides a safe haven for those who feel like there is no hope.”