Our youth participant, Madelyn, started our Transitional Living Program (TLP) and moved in with her host family over a year ago, but her story continues to inspire. At sixteen, she arrived from Guatemala to live with her cousin, who initially supported her, while studying here. After two years, her cousin moved to New York and left Madelyn behind. Madelyn could not speak English, had no source of income, and desperately lacked the resources to survive. Her remaining connection was her case manager, or promotor, at Latin American Youth Center (LAYC).
Regardless of circumstance, Madelyn’s promotor was consistently present in her life. It was her promotor who connected Madelyn to the Transitional Living Program. Her promotor was her guide in the daily uncertainty that she, and many like her, experienced during this tumultuous season of her life.
Unfortunately, prior to beginning this journey in the TLP, Madelyn contracted COVID-19. This hiccup delayed her transition into stable housing. For Madelyn, the primary concern was the safety of her host parents, and so, she stayed put. Although her living circumstances lacked the basic needs all our youth members have the right to, Madelyn persevered. Her LAYC promotor and TLP case manager assured, that regardless of the barrier that COVID imposed on Madelyn’s transition, she would not lack her necessities anymore. Her case manager and promotor delivered COVID antigen tests. When it was determined that Madelyn needed an extensive follow up with a physician, it was her team that guided her, over the phone, to safely travel to her doctor’s office, manage to communicate with the health care staff, and return home. To Madelyn and her team, this was a victory.
Shortly after her accomplishment, Madelyn’s COVID results came back negative, and she could move in with her host family. After a short week within TLP, Madelyn started attending a new school.
Today, her challenges are learning how to send emails and navigating the metro. But with her resiliency, we know she will overcome these hurdles in no time. She is always ready to take on the next challenge. Madelyn has now been a member of the LAYC family for eighteen months. Her upcoming goals are now to complete her vocational training program in construction, acquire health insurance, open her own bank account, and learn how to lay the foundation for her future.
In the last meeting with her case manager, Madelyn reported that she made a friend, someone with whom she can talk about life. Every morning she sends her case manager a text message, just a few lines in English to practice.
Madelyn’s story shows how the Transitional Living Program can support youth in critical situations, but more importantly about a young person’s strengths to move forward if offered opportunities.