The young girl enters our office. Large,  dark eyes dominate her pale face. At 15  years old, Tina has endured sexual abuse,  abandonment, hunger, fear and even motherhood! In 6th and 7th grades, she was forced to stay home to care for her eight younger step-siblings. Tina’s latest step-father impregnated her when she was in 8th grade with the 2½ year old baby she holds in her arms today. Fortunately,  someone took notice and DCS was called. Tina and her siblings were rescued from this abuse.

“I need to finish high school,” she whispers as she approaches the front desk. “I was told at my school you could help me.”  She is someone who could be a cheerleader, student council president, or star volleyball player. Yet, she is homeless, years behind in her education, and without a supporting family. The baby starts to cry, and Tina hugs him gently.

Today, Tina and her son are in a great foster home. She sees a therapist every two weeks and has worked hard to catch up in school. She is making good grades and continues to persevere because school is important to her. Tina wants to be a teacher or hair stylist and is on track to graduate from high school. She says she couldn’t have done it without the help she has received from Youth On Their Own.

Karla Avalos, YOTO Alum