“I needed that next step . . .

“I needed that next step to help me gain confidence and prepare me to reach my goals.”

At the age of 14, I was forced to leave home due to an abusive environment. One late night I was walking around downtown Yonkers and the Sanctuary’s Street Outreach Van and Mr. Charles appeared right in front of me. He asked me if I was okay. Nobody in my life had ever asked me that before, I didn’t know how to react. He then asked if I was lost, and I explained that I was not, I simply had no place to go. I had been planning to sleep hidden in the library that night, but Mr. Charles told me that there was a safe place to stay with hot meals and other young people facing similar situations. It all seemed too good to be true, but still I finally felt like things were going to be okay.

The Sanctuary ended up being my safe haven. To this day I remember being called in to set the table and have family-style meals, connecting with other young people (who I’m still in touch with!) about our shared experiences, and having that feeling of support behind me. I spent time there on and off for 5 years, until Mr. Charles recommended me for a transitional living program so I could get out on my own and build a future for myself. I needed that next step to help me gain confidence and prepare me to reach my goals. The way that Mr. Charles and the other amazing people at the Sanctuary helped me drives me to help others.

Today, over 15 years after I left the Sanctuary, I am a registered nurse in a cardiothoracic unit in Westchester County. I consider it my job to be an advocate for my patients. I’ve spent time on many units in my training, including the ICU and operating room. I have even been able to recognize the signs and provide immediate support to victims of abuse due to my
own experiences growing up. I’m really happy to be in a place where I can give back. I am forever grateful to the Sanctuary for helping me get to where I am today.

Rosa resided at The Sanctuary at CV – Westchester’s only homeless shelter for teens. The Sanctuary provides a safe place to stay, individual and group counseling, family-style meals, and life coaching for youth returning to their communities. It supports teens who should not be living on the street, couch surfing, forced to enter a shelter, or trading their bodies for food or housing.

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