Lyndsey - Building on faith and finding a home
Four months before graduating high school in East Texas, Lyndsey was faced with a future no one ever plans for. She faced homelessness and the possibility of not graduating high school during her senior year. At age 16, living with her aunt proved to be a convenient arrangement. As a full-time high school student juggling a part-time job, the proximity of her aunt’s home to the places Lyndsey often frequented – school, and work – made her life much easier. Later on, living with her aunt would come with its own set of challenges and staying with her mother wasn’t any better than her other alternatives.
Two weeks before Lyndsey became homeless, she recalls when her aunt cut her off cold turkey. She knew this meant that it would only be a matter of time before her aunt would kick her out because “she needed space”. So Lyndsey came home one night to the realization that she had been locked out. She had work and school the next day.
A park nearby became her temporary shelter. Lyndsey would wait at the park for a friend who would be at work. Other times she’d “just roam around”. Rainy days and temperamental weather didn’t stop Lyndsey from roaming the streets and sometimes she sought shelter under the pavilion in the park. Dealing with the combination of temperamental weather and the reality of being homeless was difficult to say the least. The stress of taking final exams in 2 – 3 weeks compounded with the constant worry of where she would find shelter was so unmanageable, at times it seemed unreal.
Lyndsey recalled thinking, “It can’t get any worse than this”. Although part of her had grown accustomed to not having a home, her faith and belief in finding something better outweighed the tempting option to succumb to her problems.
Lyndsey called a former 6th grade teacher who offered Lyndsey the chance to stay with her and her family. Although that proved to be short lived, Lyndsey learned about Blake’s House shortly after. At first, Lyndsey found the thought of moving in with strangers a bit odd, but the allure of staying at a place that would encourage her to save money, and help her build life skills was motivation enough to apply.
The application process took about two weeks. She interviewed with Marcie Bazor, Director of Blake’s House and Vivian Caruthers, Volunteer with Blake’s House, for about an hour and a half. Much to her surprise, an hour later Lyndsey received a call back from Marcie and Vivian sharing that she could move into Blake’s House. Lyndsey was ecstatic.
August 20th, 2016 marked Lyndsey’s five month anniversary at Blake’s House. If it weren’t for Blake’s House, Lyndsey shares that she would be “either on the street, or somewhere back in East Texas”.
Lyndsey acknowledges that her faith and dedicated work ethic have helped her get through tough times and stand out professionally. At age 17, Lyndsey secured a job with Pizza Hut as a Customer Service Representative. She recalls that whenever her site was visited by Area Coaches, her enthusiasm and work ethic always got her noticed. Lyndsey shares, “I believe in whatever I do and, I do it to the best of my ability”. At Pizza Hut, her manager quickly took notice of this and encouraged Lyndsey to undergo a training program to become a manager at her own site. Unfortunately, her manager’s timing came right before Lyndsey was ready to leave Louisville and head to Plano, Texas after being accepted into Blake’s House. Despite this, her manager insisted that Lyndsey still try to complete the program. Coincidentally, there happened to be a Pizza Hut in Plano that could really benefit from Lyndsey’s organizational and strong management skills. After meeting with her boss and discussing the pros and cons of this decision, Lyndsey told her manager, “Let’s give it a shot”. To date, she is currently in Pizza Hut’s management training program and has plans to enroll in Collin College in McKinney, Texas Spring 2017. She plans on becoming a counselor or life coach in the future.
Lyndsey no longer lives in anxiety about where she will sleep, or where her next meal will come from. She credits Blake’s House for providing her with the structure that is helping her live independently. These days, she is most excited about taking driving lessons with Marcie and Vivian. As for her advice to young women experiencing similar circumstances, Lynsey states, “I’d tell them to keep the faith and don’t give up. There’s always a Blake’s House.”.
Alisha - Be your own kind of hero
It was a long and tumultuous route, but Alisha found Blake’s House by way of Arlington, Texas. Alisa was about 12 or 13 when her parents divorced. She stayed with her father and older brother at the time, while her younger sister stayed with her mother. Her father’s absence at home made it easy for Alisha to fall into behaviours that quickly led to depression. She skipped school frequently and associated with friends who also engaged in habits that encouraged substance abuse.
At times when her dad was present at home, Alisha remembers periods of ongoing violence in the house. Things appeared to change for the better when Alisha’s mom offered Alisha the chance to stay with her, and the promise that if Alisha did well in high school, her mom would give Alisha anything she wanted. Despite Alisha’s strong performance in high school and what started as a good living arrangement, things quickly disintegrated. Alisha learned about her mom’s ulterior motives for moving Alisha to Plano, and discovered that they had nothing to do with improving Alisha’s life at all. Arguments between Alisha and her mother quickly ensued. Alisha recounts an argument she had with her mother one night, where her mother shared that she did not want Alisha home. Alisha slept outside that night.
The following day, as Alisha rode the school bus on the way home from school, the memory of the night before brought her to tears. In that moment, the realization that her mom did not want her home forced Alisha to find other places to stay. At times this meant staying with a friend for a night, or staying outside on the street. Going to high school during her senior year amidst all of this wasn’t any easier but you wouldn’t know this by her grades. Although she continued to do well in school, high school for Alisha also marked a time where everything fell apart. A candid conversation with her guidance counselor gave Alisha the will to apply to Blake’s House. At the encouragement of her guidance counselor, Alisha completed the application which was scary for her. She recalls that the application seemed so professional and wondered about what would happen if she was not accepted. During the interview with Marcie Bazor, Director of Blake’s House and Vivian Caruthers, Volunteer with Blake’s House, Alisha shared many of the experiences that brought her to that point in time. She surprised herself when she began crying at the thought of reliving her experiences. A few hours later after her interview, she received a phone call from Marcie sharing that was accepted into Blake’s House. Vivian arrived to Alisha’s mom’s house a few days later and helped Alisha pack her things. They left shortly after and Alisha has not looked back since.
She moved into Blake’s House in February 2016 and cites much of her growth to her time there. “It’s a miracle that I even found Blake’s House in the first place.” Before finding Blake’s House, Alisha dreamed about leaving her home, and doing “basic” things she hadn’t been able to do earlier like learn how to drive, or obtain an ID.
Her graduation from high school in June 2016 marked the end of a sad chapter, and has encouraged Alisha to acknowledge her own heroism and ability to overcome. When asked about what that day was like, she shared “It felt like a big load off my chest”. Since graduating, Alisha has started college and is working at ULTA Beauty where she feels exactly in her element. Alisha loves cosmetology and also stumbled across another passion at Blake’s House. At Blake’s House, Alisha was paired with a mentor who encouraged Alisha sign up for a program to take care of kids at church. She enjoyed working with kids and not surprisingly, her favorite subject in high school was child development.
When asked what keeps her going, it doesn’t take long for Alisha to mention that Lyndsey has helped her so much. “You don’t get eased into adult life, you kind of get pushed into it” Alisha shares. Lyndsey has been there as both girls continue to make that journey together. Alisha follows up on this answer by sharing that Marcie and Vivian have also helped her and last but certainly not least, Alisha shares that she herself has also become her own motivation.