This past summer, Tim took the plunge – literally and figuratively. Through LSS of Northern California’s supportive housing program for homeless youth, he gained the skills and confidence to build a life for himself. Donations from individuals and congregations supported his journey.
Change was difficult for the 23-year-old, known for his quiet and tentative demeanor. He had lived in LSS’ Sacramento supportive housing program for formerly homeless youth since he was 18. Many years of physical and verbal abuse by his mother, angry at the break up of her marriage, made the young man shy and unsure of himself.
“During my first year in the LSS program, I was so withdrawn that other residents didn’t know I was around,” recalls Tim.
Tim’s case worker made sure he received counseling to help him cope with the traumatic experiences of his youth. He also participated in group activities, such as family-style dinners and arts classes, organized by the LSS staff, and learned basic independent living skills. He gained entry level job skills through LSS’ Youth Simply Giving Back job readiness program and volunteered with the Sierra Service Project. With the encouragement of his LSS case worker and employment specialist, he applied for and was accepted into a four month internship to work at Yosemite National Park.
The spectacular beauty of Yosemite made an impression on the young man, who had only lived in Sacramento. He also had his first full-time job with lots of responsibility in the park’s maintenance department. Along with other youth in the program, he lived in a dorm-like setting and started making new friends.
“My experience at LSS gave me the courage to go out into the world,” said Tim.
The internship introduced him to new outdoor activities, such as hiking, river rafting and skydiving. Now the kid who had been so afraid of change and preferred to stay in the shadows was the first one to take the plunge out of the plane -- with his parachute, of course.
Tim still struggles to overcome the experiences of his childhood that caused him to flee home and made him homeless. For example, his mother once beat him with an aluminum baseball bat. Another time, the despondent teenager walked 13 miles to a mental health facility and admitted himself. And still he fears his mother, who continued to seek him out and harass him
However, today Tim possesses a spirit of hope and a vision for his life borne out of this past summer’s experiences. He used his new network of friends and job search skills learned at LSS to find a seasonal job at Mammoth Lakes Resort in Southern California. Now he will have to learn to ski and snowboard.
As he thinks about the future, Tim hopes to pursue a teaching career, perhaps focusing on history, a subject he enjoys. He discovered an interest in writing and painting through art classes in his LSS program and will continue this hobby while also writing an autobiographical book on his life journey.
“I never thought my life could be fulfilling, but now I know differently!”