From Surviving to Thriving: Monae’s Story

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When you’re not sure where you’re going to lay your head at night or where your next meal might come from, it’s impossible to concentrate on anything but surviving day to day. Setting goals and thinking about the future is out of the question.

Such was the case for 19-year-old Monae. The teen was living in an unstable home environment often bouncing around from family member to family member. On any given day, it was like rolling a dice to see if she’d have a roof over her head or a hot meal that night. With uncertainty consuming her life, she fell behind in school and her self-esteem began to sink lower and lower.

Just when it seemed that Monae may never escape the struggles of being a homeless teenager, she connected with Jacobs’ Place, Omaha Home for Boys’ Transitional Living Program, where she found the security and stability she so desperately wanted and needed.

With a roof over her head and caring adults surrounding her, Monae quickly settled in and began achieving many of the goals that she set for herself. “When Monae first came to Jacobs’ Place, she seemed to lack confidence and seemed a little sad and uncertain,” said Carma Gunter, an Independent Living Specialist at Jacobs’ Place who worked closely with Monae. “After just a month and a half at Jacobs’ Place she had already completed high school graduation requirements. She already appeared more confident.”

In addition to graduating high school, Monae worked with Jacobs’ Place staff to find steady employment and completed her application for federal student aid. Jacobs’ Place staff also guided Monae in improving her communication skills and provided classes in cooking, budgeting, grocery shopping and time management, all of which were areas in which Monae struggled prior to connecting with Jacobs’ Place. But the most significant indication of Monae’s growth came in the form of her volunteerism. She became an exemplary volunteer, giving over 100 hours of community service.

“Monae has volunteered to clean out rooms at Jacobs’ Place when residents move out,” said Carma. “She has shown other residents how to ride the bus and navigate public transportation and she also volunteered at a local nursing home during the holidays, taking cookies and cards to the residents.”

Monae is nearing the completion of the Jacobs’ Place program and is making steady progress towards transitioning to living independently. She is saving money for an apartment and a car and is in the process of applying for an Omaha Home for Boys scholarship. She plans to start Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) classes soon and has college plans as well. One day she hopes to be a pediatrician.

Seeing Monae’s beaming smile and radiant confidence today makes it hard to believe that she was once so uncertain of herself and her future. But today, one thing Monae says with complete certainty and confidence is, “My life would not be as great as it is right now if I hadn’t come here [Jacobs’ Place]. I wouldn’t be as happy as I am.”

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Monae’s story is just one of the hundreds of stories we hear from struggling youth every year, but with your support, we can help these young adults find their happy endings. Your gift to Omaha Home for Boys helps turn despair into hope. It helps bring trusted mentors and caring adults into the lives of these at-risk youth. Your gift truly SAVES and CHANGES lives!

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