Homeless – but not hopeless – at 21

When Milaykiss was only 15 years old, she moved into Coalition for the Homeless with her mother and three younger siblings.

Experiencing homelessness is difficult for anyone, but the situation presents especially unique struggles to adolescents. “As a teenager, it was scary and depressing. I was mad at the world,” she shared. “I was bad. I got arrested. I ran away twice…”

After about a year at the Coalition, Milaykiss’ family moved into a hotel. For the next five years, housing remained unstable for her. “My mom and I have never gotten along,” she said. As a result, she moved out of the hotel and in with her father. Not long after, he went to jail, leaving Milaykiss with nowhere to go but the streets.

Living on the streets proved to be a difficult lifestyle and Milaykiss eventually moved back in with her mother. As before, the arguments escalated and Milaykiss was kicked out. With her father still in jail, the 21-year-old returned to the Coalition alone, remembering the support her family received here.

“I always looked up to certain staff members here. Even though I fought with them when I was younger, I still looked up to them,” she said, explaining her reasons for returning to the Coalition. “And as I got older, I thought about the things they said to me. I knew they really did help people.”

Because of Central Florida’s support, we are able to give hope to residents like Milaykiss, who are trying to change their lives.

“I’ve been doing well,” she said. “I’m learning how to be on my own, how to be more independent, how to do things my way. And I appreciate it.”

With her case manager’s help, Milaykiss is searching for a job, creating a budget and savings account, and furthering her education.

She has two more years left of college and plans to earn her degree in Business and Health Care.

Her dream, which is possible thanks to our supporters, is to own a daycare center.

“The Coalition is a great place to be,” she said. “I have people here that care about me.”

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