My name is Zematra and I'm 19 years old. I grew up in foster care. I lived in about nine different places, with different people who had different attitudes. Sometimes I stayed with family members, sometimes with people I didn't know in homes or group homes. I dressed nice and went to school on time, but people who saw me didn't know what I was really going through.
When I was 16 I came to the YMCA. Khaliah who works there called me. She had a great approach and vibe: "We want you here. This is a service for you."
I had heard about the program and was very excited to have somebody to talk to. It was hard for me to talk to people then.
I found my voice at the Y. Basically I got a better understanding that life doesn't revolve around me. Sometimes difficult things happen in life, and those things happen for a reason. I learned to make good choices, like moving into a group home when I was pregnant so I would have a safe place for me and my daughter to live and not be homeless. I also graduated high school and did an internship at the Y's resource center. And I decided to give back to the community by talking to other young people about taking control of their lives and not being afraid to ask questions when they need help.
People at the YMCA make time for me. They offer extra words of encouragement and have open hearts. They go the extra mile and are always available.
I'm excited to be in a medical assistant certificate program now. I have my own apartment. I'm trying to stay focused and positive. With encouragement I'll be fine.
I have changed a lot and feel more change coming.