One young man came to Thrive after being driven out of his parents' house for being in love with another man. When he first arrived, he told staff that he had just about given up. He was crying and said he felt so lucky that this place existed. He was determined to get his life back on track, and Thrive worked with him to connect with Workforce Solutions Alamo (WSA). WSA provides assistance in acquiring a trade, which often equates to a higher income and the potential for sustaining stable housing. This young man has finished school and is now working on his externship to become a medical assistant, with the ultimate goal of becoming an RN.
Do you remember your very first paycheck? For many young adults living on the street, it is extremely difficult to secure a stable job. One of our residents got his very first job at age 22, which was one of the most exciting moments in his life. Two weeks later, he presented us with an envelope. He opened the envelope and asked us, "What is this and what do I do with it?" This resident had never seen a paycheck. He had been on the streets since he was sixteen years old. Thrive staff helped explain check cashing, banking options, and the importance of saving. Having our residents become financially knowledgeable is just one of the many ways we support LGBTQ young people experiencing homelessness.
One of our transgender residents was in the foster care system. At age 16, she started dressing more feminine and wearing make up. She says, "they stopped that real quick. Basically, they were like, you can not be doing that here." Eventually, she aged out of foster care. With nowhere else to go, she says she was about to end up on the streets before she found the Thrive center. At 18, she says she feels lucky to have found a place so early on in her life that supports her transition.
When she first arrived, she was trying to find a job and had no luck. Thrive was able to get her name and gender marker changed legally. Therefore, now her ID matches who she is and she was able to obtain employment. She says, "It's given me a sort of freedom. Someone can look at me, look at my documents, and see me ---only me, not who I used to be."
Everyone here at Thrive could go on all day telling story after story. The majority of our residents have been on the streets since they were 15 or 16 years old, simply for being LGBTQ. Most did not have any form of ID when they arrived. Without an ID, you can not obtain employment. Their existence prior to being at Thrive consisted of, what bridge am I going to sleep under tonight and what church serves food tomorrow. For all of our residents, the is the first time in their life that they have had a chance to better themselves.