When we think about being a pre-teen or “tween” as some say, we think of being worried about having the latest tech, or what to wear to school the next day, or maybe just when the next day with no homework is. Unfortunately for me, I did not have the stereotypical struggles we think about at the age of 13. 

My name is Emily and I was dropped off at Homeward Bound Shelter by my mom at age 13. It wasn’t by choice. My mother was using drugs and alcohol and was homeless.

When I was younger, I was used to running wild and staying in different places and on different couches since age 11. Before Brighton Center, I never had a stable life. I ran away a lot. I had been staying with an aunt primarily but kept running away. Meanwhile, my mother was supposed to work on a plan with the Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) and then get me back. Instead, my mother moved out of state. She didn’t come back until I was 18. My father has never been in the picture.

I ran away from Homeward Bound Shelter several times, have been to multiple foster homes, have been to psychiatric hospitals and rehabs, and even at one point, was living in an abandoned house in Dayton. No matter how many times I ran away from Homeward Bound, I always came back because I knew it was a safe, supportive place I could turn to.

Since becoming a mom, I have settled down, and my children come first. I truly do everything I can for my kids. I was only able to get through the 9th grade due to bouncing around. One of my goals is to finish my GED. Another dream of mine is to be a photographer for National Geographic.

With support through Street Outreach and Brighton Center, I know I will continue to have help as I pursue new dreams for myself and my family. Brighton Center has helped bring stability into my life. I am moving into a nice and stable environment with just me and my babies. The landlord of the house is actually a foster parent, so it's a great fit for me and my children. It’s a clean and safe place, and that’s all we need.

I am now a completely different person than I was as a teen. I used to have the worst attitude and run away a lot. Brighton Center has helped me become a better person and a better mom. I want everyone to know that you can’t ever stop. Don’t give up. Brighton Center will help you keep going if you ever feel like you can’t.

Brighton Center will stick around as long as you need them. I constantly call when I need help or advice, but they don’t ever mind. They are always there for me, and whoever needs them. It gets easier if you work for it. I’m not saying it isn’t hard, but it gets easier. Brighton Center makes it even easier to keep going and become independent.

January 2020 Update: Emily has been in her own apartment for several months, has been working and is planning on enrolling in our Center for Employment Training to start on a career path. 

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