Although Poetic may come off as unassuming when you first meet her, you soon realize that she is a resilient survivor with wisdom and drive far beyond her 21 years. Poetic grew up with parents who, although loving and well-intentioned, were in the clutches of severe drug addiction. When she was eight, her family was evicted from their home and she and her siblings lived on the streets of San Francisco with her mother
. For the two years she was on the street, she didn’t attend school, instead spending her days panhandling and selling candy to survive. She was finally placed into foster care at age 10 when she was living in a homeless shelter with her mother and siblings.
Poetic’s time in foster care was tumultuous because she and her siblings were never able to adjust to the homes they were placed in. At eleven, she and her siblings went to live with their grandmother. The apartment was cramped and they barely scraped by on her grandmother’s fixed income but Poetic received encouragement and was able to catch up on the schooling she had missed. In fact, she excelled in high school, earning good grades and winning various writing contests
. Poetic then set even greater educational goals for herself and, at 18, moved out and started college locally.
She did well in her studies but because school was her focus, she found it hard to stay consistently housed. She worked to earn money for living expenses but never earned enough to make ends meet because of her full school schedule. Poetic soon found herself moving around, sleeping on friends’ couches or floors while attending classes and working during the day.
“It was tough,” she remembers. “I never had a consistent place to stay and I couldn’t go back to grandma’s because they gave my bed to another relative after I left.” Not knowing what else to do, she checked in with ILSP staff who told her about First Place. She applied to the program and moved into her own apartment shortly after.
For Poetic, consistent housing is what she’s most grateful to First Place for. “I was so depressed when I was couch surfing,” she recalls. “School means so much to me and finishing is my goal…I always knew I could achieve my goal but I had no stable place to stay so I was worried.
Without First Place I’d still be trying to finish college while homeless.” Her immediate goal is to receive her nursing degree and then work in that field while studying to become a doctor. With a secure place to call home, Poetic is on track to achieve that goal. She’s also thriving in other parts of her life, participating in various urban writing projects and working with other at-risk kids as a mentor. “Things are definitely looking up,” she says.