Building Strong Foundations Tears Down Walls

The places where we live shape our lives and our overall well-being, especially for youth and young adults. The more time a young person spends without a stable home, the more difficult success becomes in almost every area of their life, continuing on into adulthood. The Y builds supportive relationships and sustainable frameworks that empower young adults to positively contribute to their communities and thrive for the future.

On any given night, more than 800 young people experience homelessness in King County. Abuse, coming out as LGBT, and aging out of foster care are all circumstances that often force youth from homes, to surviving on the streets. In Washington, one in four foster youths will experience homelessness after aging out of care.

“Homeless is just a place, a position in life. It’s not a decision. The biggest challenge is just accepting that’s your situation.” Powerful words from a 21-year-old who until very recently, called Seattle’s streets home.

Jaelyn discovered the Accelerator YMCA’s Young Adult Services (YAS), after aging out of foster care and struggling with homelessness for two years. The welcome and resources he’s found at YAS have helped him maintain stable housing and make progress towards achieving his life goals.

“They don’t quit on you, even when you quit on you. And sometimes in life when you don’t have anybody, you need that,” Jaelyn says.

Through YAS programs, Jaelyn’s connected with employment support, an internship, help resolving legal issues, and his own apartment.

“Honestly without the Y, I don’t know where I would be. They make you remember you’re worth something,” he says. “Everyone remembers your name, the staff are always trying to make you smile, make your day better. Not like other places that treat you like a number.”

His experiences as a foster youth have also made him a strong advocate for those still in the system.

“I may not have all the answers but they know I’m speaking from experience. If there is anything I would want to do, is to know I helped a kid that was just like me. ”

WATCH: Jaelyn's Story

Category: Personal Y Stories