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At 16, I was homeless. At 17, I was a young mother. Today, I lead our Youth Housing strategy at YouthLink.

As Director of Housing and Community Programs at YouthLink, I lean on my experiences and memories to influence how we work with young people.

Homelessness isn’t something anyone chooses, trust me. Young people arrive here for many different reasons and with many different stories. But they share some things in common: by the time they reach YouthLink, they have been vulnerable to violence and exploitation. They have learned that trust should not be given easily. They have likely experienced trauma and stigma. They have already experienced and survived so much.

As a young person, my shelter workers made such a difference in my life. They became like family and an important part of my community and social support system.

After 15 years of working in shelters, I’ve begun to understand the importance of another community that provides a different type of support: donors like you who understand the difference donations make to the 1800 youth who are at YouthLink each year. Donors like you who show your compassion through your financial support.

While we do our best to make it feel like home at all times of the year, as the holidays approach, it is a particularly challenging time for the young people we serve.

During this holiday season, I hope you’ll donate to support young people working to change their lives.

Thank you!

Rita Asare