Senior Year Success: Carmen

Published: February 28, 2017, at 8:51 a.m. PT

Last updated: August 21, 2017, at 12:54 a.m. PT

Young African American woman with plaid shirt, smiling.

Carmen began visiting the Accelerator YMCA after enrolling in our after school program for English Language Learning high school students. This is a job readiness program that helps immigrant and refugee students gain the skills they need to finish high school, pursue post-secondary education, and find employment. It is run in partnership with Horn of Africa Services, a nonprofit that serves the East African immigrant and refugee community in Seattle.

While enrolled in this program, Carmen revealed to staff that she was homeless and couch-surfing between various friends' houses. Despite these challenges, Carmen was still attending high school and kept up a solid GPA, so her situation was not identified by her school. Carmen was tired of constantly trying to find a place to sleep each night, and decided to ask the Y for help. 

Accelerator YMCA staff worked in collaboration with community partners to form a wraparound team to support Carmen through her senior year. The team helped her apply for college and financial aid, obtain an ID, taught her how to cash a check, and helped her secure transitional housing so she could focus on school.

When Carmen walked across the graduation stage, Accelerator Y staff were in the stands cheering her on. Today, Carmen is attending community college, living with a friend, and has returned to the after school program - but this time as an adult mentor! We continue to offer her support, to be caring adults that she can count on as she makes the transition into adulthood.

Category: Social Services