As part of a recent series of stories compiled for National Community Development Week, the City of Colorado Springs highlighted Drake, a young person who utilized The PLACE’s Emergency Youth Shelter. If you missed it, you can read the post here.
There is a lot more to Drake’s story than the character limit would allow…
When he was just four years old, Drake witnessed the accident that led to his six-year-old sister’s death. That tragic event shaped the rest of his childhood and tainted his relationship with his father forever. Not long before he left his father’s house for good, there was a disagreement that ended with Drake’s father saying to him “you’re the reason she’s dead.” As you can imagine, those words inflicted a great deal of pain.
Drake did have a plan for leaving his father’s house that included where he would go next. However, all the pieces did not come together properly, and he found himself being transferred from a youth shelter in Denver to a youth shelter in Boulder. Eventually, Drake connected with a friend in Colorado Springs who had a place for him to stay. Drake settled in and lined up a job interview, ready to be independent. The day before Drake’s interview, the friend with whom he was staying suffered a drug overdose. Now grieving and confused about what to do next, Drake once again fell into homelessness.
It was at this point in his journey that Drake found The PLACE. Exhausted after months of struggle, he arrived at our shelter and actually cheered, bouncing up and down and clapping as The PLACE team welcomed him inside.
“The entire staff was extremely supportive since the second I got here,” said Drake. As with other young people who come into our shelter, Drake was set up with bed linens, hygiene supplies, a warm meal, and some basic necessities. “I got new shoes! My old shoes were talking, coming apart at the soles. They hooked me up with these red sneakers.”
It did not take long for Drake to create a plan for his future, and he knew that he needed help. He found that the Job Corps program was where he wanted to focus, but the application process presented some challenges. Drake needed to complete a physical, get enrolled for health insurance, and find a way to access food regularly once he moved forward. The processes were all new for Drake, and our shelter case managers helped him gain the important benefits that act as a bridge from homelessness to a better future for youth.
The care provided at The PLACE goes beyond a bed, food, and even help to fill out applications. Our trauma-informed approach recognizes that finding an outlet to express feelings is a big part of the path to healing.
Drake processed some of his trauma through creative outlets such as writing, music and drawing. He learned how to set healthy boundaries with his father so that he could protect his own mental health. When he was preparing to relocate for Job Corps, he shared that he was feeling really stressed. That’s when he created the art shown here. Much of Drake’s work depicts his pain and his perseverance.
These are the kinds of skills that we hope to equip every youth with while they are in our care: skills that allow youth to see past their current circumstances to a future full of possibilities. That future can incorporate healing into the everyday routine, making space for authentic connection to people, places, and a greater purpose. We see the foundation for such a future in Drake’s story and look forward to all he will accomplish next.