Youth Story: Jalyn
Hi everyone, my name is Jalyn. Before Covid I have been coming to the attic since August of 2019. The attic has helped me in a lot of good ways, giving me a free cooked meal, providing me with resources and a therapist, but most of all the attic has given me a space to go when I need somewhere to just breath and have fun. Prior to coming to the attic I have been homeless for two years and as of that August we moved into a homeless shelter, beforehand we were only moving around hotels, motels, and friends' couches.
When we finally moved to the shelter I was having a really rough time during the first week alone and my mom was unable to help me with what I was feeling since she had to also focus on her own well-being. She did the best she could but she wasn’t a therapist. Two weeks before I started my first semester of college, she told me about a youth center for lgbtq that I can go to. She thought it would be a good opportunity to maybe find somewhere to volunteer and make some friends. I was new to the city and didn’t know anyone, So on my way there I got lost until I finally stumbled upon the attic. It’s quite hilarious thinking back how many times I got lost trying to use google maps, even though now I know the area like the back of my hand.
I distinctly remember when I first walked in, the first day there was exactly what I needed. My only experience with activity centers was the YMCA, so I mainly associated them with white walls and blinding lights, but the attic reminded me of going to a friend's house. It was warm and welcoming and the people there made my first time there all the more fun. Also oddly enough I remember feeling relieved and happy that the doors to the bathroom were locked, in the shelter that I was staying at mostly housed addicts so all the doors at that facility didn’t have locks. Also every two hours or so the RA’s would walk in sometimes unannounced just to check where everyone was, since no one was allowed in their rooms at certain times. I remember being happy that I didn’t have to worry about anyone walking in, as well as fortunate that the bathroom was clean and had lots of toiletries, which wasn’t that common at the shelter; I was afraid to touch anything, and used hand sanitizer religiously even before covid.
I loved the living room, the giant table, and the abundance of snacks that were always laid out for everyone who was early enough to arrive at check-in. I loved watching movies and shows with friends whenever the tv wasn’t occupied. I loved feeling like I had a space to really hangout with other people my age, and there were activities planned out every day for me to participate in. During my first day there, I made t-shirt prints with an organizer named Malcom, learned a bit of the piano with an organizer named David, also I had the chance to schedule an appointment with a therapist, had dinner there, and before school started I made a few new friends. Once school started, I didn’t have many friends, and threw myself to learning, so before school picked up of course I always made sure to leave my Fridays open, as that was when Rosco, another organizer would bring his videogame consoles, eventually I started to attend club at school and classes ran during when drop-in started. Though whenever I had the time and wanted to do an activity scheduled that day, or even wanted to see some friends I would run to the nearest bus stop bus and would ride away to The Attic. It deeply pained me when covid first started because I miss everyone there, but I am still thankful that the Attic was there when I needed that space in my life. Now I’m staying with my godparents waiting to move into my house finally. I still try to attend the virtual and therapy sessions when I can, but I am counting down the days when I may go back to the Attic in-person, safely and without a pandemic looming over me. I got a haircut that they arranged for some youths, and even got a bag full of food, the faculty there really do care about everyone who goes there, they make sure that we are ok, so I pray that it doesn’t get shut down due to this pandemic. As someone a part of the lgbtq community and generation z I feel that we need to provide more safe spaces like the attic to the general population. Life is already hard enough as it is and the world as of right now is already harder. A lot of us are so smart, strong, but a lot of us are struggling too and I feel that the best thing the older generations can do is understand us better so society won’t force us to grow up any faster than we already are right now.
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