Finding Hope at 19

Dec 12, 2016 -


Lena in the kitchen For most of her childhood, Lena wanted to die. As the eldest child in her family, she received the brunt of emotional and physical abuse from her mother. “The older I got,” Lena explains, “the meaner my mother got. She was aggressive towards me both physically and mentally. Then when I was 13, she stood by while I was raped by her friend. My pleas and cries were ignored.  She never protected me.”

After years of being bruised and traumatized, Lena was suicidal. Her biological father intervened and moved her to Missouri, but he could not provide permanent housing. “I bounced around from family member to family member,” Lena says. By 16, she had lost count of her suicide attempts: “I’d tried to call it quits eight or so times already.” Believing there would never be an end to her constant and unbearable suffering, she tried again to end her life. But this time she was placed in a juvenile psychiatric center.

Gradually she recovered an interest in living. Last year, Lena was able to enroll in JobCorps. She discovered a passion for cooking and graduated from the culinary program of JobCorps. Now 19, too old for foster care and with nowhere to live, she was welcomed into one of our Transitional Living Programs.   

There Lena found a place to belong, and a group of people and role models who truly have her best interest at heart. “I am learning to accept the things in my life that I cannot change and to love myself,” Lena says. “PCHAS is providing me with the skills I need to succeed.”  

Today, Lena beams as she describes her outlook: “Now I’m saving up to purchase my first car and insurance. I hope to work in a fancy restaurant someday and to support myself.  PCHAS has definitely given me the confidence and the tools to meet the future.”

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