Tuesday, July 30, 2013

TRY - Helping the Next Generation of Young Women in Buffalo

As a social worker, I have a special interest in programs that help teenage girls. In Buffalo, I found one that runs in a very similar fashion to the one I ran in St. Louis and with similar astounding results. TRY stands for Teaching and Restoring Youth. It offers transitional housing for 16 to 21 year olds, in a loving ,supportive and structured home environment. It is for young women who are homeless, suffer from abuse, violence, or have been caught in the web of human trafficking. It offers hope and healing.  I could say a lot more but I think I will let the young women's poetry aznd words tell their story.

Broken by Jennifer
Feeling broken lost and alone,
Used and abused and not very strong.
Living in fear that I will never find my home.
Afraid of loving for fear people will go,
Never letting my true colors show.
Giving in trade never in kindness,
Living my life in total blindness.
Familiar stuff is the thing of the past,
Who knows how long anything will last.

I had the opportunity to talk at a deep level with two of the residents, Deedee and Josephine, (not their real names). Deedee shared"I feel like we don't have nobody to help us. If it wasn't for Sr. Janet and Vanessa, I don' t think I could make it." Deedee has now graduated from high school and is in college pursueing a nursing degree. Josephine, also in college, is the first member of her family to graduate from high school. Josephine noted,"it's kind of hard with the rules here but a lot of my friend with their own place are doing pretty bad." Deedee shared, "It's easier to take a different road but I know what I want to have happen in my life." Their dialogue reminds me of the resolve that Crystal shared in her poem, Although.

Although you hurt me...
I will survive,
Although you took advantage of me...
I won't let you ruin me,
Although you misused my body...
I won't let you take my dignity,
Although I am filled with pain...
I'm not at all the one to be blamed,
Although you abused me...
I will not let you accuse me,
Although I was in pain and strife...
You will be the one to suffer in agony
For the rest of your life,
Although you hurt me...
I will survive.

Josephine  said, "I struggle for my younger siblings. I want to be a role model. But you have to have someone be there and support you." Deedee and Josephine both rely on each other during the hard times.  The program really tries to develop a community of support and it appears to me that they have succeeded.

Special Person by Jennifer

A person to talk to when I'm scared or afraid,
A person to tell me "It'll be okay",
A person that laughs when I tell stupid jokes,
A person who calms me down when I just want to choke,

I've searched a long time to find that person,
And I've found that person, "It's you!"

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