After Lisa was abandoned by her mother during her freshman year of high school, she spent the next few years bouncing around – from one relative to another friend every few months. Someone would take Lisa in and offer to help, only to kick her out several weeks later because they just couldn’t make ends meet. Lisa felt like no one cared about her and that she didn’t matter… so she began to self-harm.

It was shortly after enrolling in her sixth high school that she met her YOTO School Liaison – the first compassionate person in her life. According to Lisa, “Finding YOTO helped me realize that I was someone of value.” Instead of self-harming, Lisa started channeling her emotions into creative writing. “Over time, I started to reach for a pen instead of something sharp when things got to be too much to handle.”

In the fall semester of her senior year, Lisa applied to be an intern at the YOTO Resale Home Store. She got the position and soon began to worry that her social anxiety would hinder her at work. With a little help and coaching from her YOTO supervisors, Lisa became more confident in herself and in her ability to work in the store. “My anxiety isn’t affecting me as bad as I thought it would be… I am able to (and kind of rock at) providing customer service to our customers. I’m not just hiding in the back.”

Lisa plans to attend Pima Community College in the fall to major in Education and minor in American Sign Language. She hopes to continue working in retail to support herself through school.