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“Not three months ago my life was a living hell. I was living in constant fear and it was swallowing me whole. Fear of having another bruise to hide, fear of not being able to function properly the next day due to lack of sleep. And the biggest fear of all: Fear of being homeless.”
My name is “Lynne Sanders”. I am an eighteen year old resident of the Sasha Bruce Independent Living Program and I’m here today to tell you my stories.
Not three months ago my life was a living hell. I was living in constant fear and it was swallowing me whole. Fear of having another bruise to hide, fear of not being able to function properly the next day due to lack of sleep. And the biggest fear of all: Fear of being homeless.
My stepfather and I did not get along. At the time it seemed that we were enemies, each out to make the other’s life miserable. He attempted to control my every move and I retaliated with dropping out of school, disrespecting him and violence. I tried to be independent at too young an age and he responded with abuse, both physical and sexual, among other forms.
Needless to say, I changed my tune when this all came down on me. No longer was I the bubbly, friendly little girl who had a smile for everyone. In her place was an old woman who worried about everything and was suffering from the fatal disease I call hopelessness.
When I was almost eighteen years old, I was told that I was no longer welcome in my step father’s home. By my eighteenth birthday I was to have found a home elsewhere. So, I began my search for shelter and found Sasha Bruce online. I started going through the interview process required to gain entry into the organization’s Independent Living Program. Things were still tough at home but there was light at the end of the tunnel.
Two weeks before my birthday, I got into a horrible fight with my step dad in which I was shoved, slapped and even choked. Needless to say that when given an ultimatum to leave that very night, I took it because I feared for my safety. At 11 PM I left home with a few clothes, my journal and a pen. As I wandered the streets of my neighborhood, I met a man who lived nearby. Upon asking him for money to buy food, he brought me back to his home where he, his girlfriend and their three young children resided, and proceeded to feed me and offer me shelter until something else cam through for me.
My presence put a burden on the family that I could feel and after six days, I left earlier than I’d planned to. I had one more day to be on my own before my last interview with the Independent Living Program. I had nowhere else to go and going back home was not an option, so I slept on a park bench that night, cold, hungry and sick to my stomach. Most of all, though, afraid.
On my last interview the next day, things started happening for me instantly. I was moved over to the Sasha Bruce House to stay while my apartment at the Independent Living Program was prepared for move-in. During my stay there, I learned and experienced so much in my one-week stay. More importantly, I was in an environment in which I felt safe and comfortable. That feeling didn’t change once I moved into my apartment. Thanks to the Sasha Bruce Independent Living program I have friends, I’m getting help with everything from my emotional help to my physical health, I’m going back to school and will start working to save money soon.
It’s been three months since I started this program and already I’m the happiest I’ve been in my eighteen years of living.
Sasha Bruce Youthwork is a life-changing program. Every staff member that I’ve encountered along my journey has touched me deeply because I can SEE and FEEL their passion for children and their desire to help is remarkable to me. Anything you, any of you, can do to support this program would be greatly appreciated by not just me and the people who work for it, but the countless other children who’ve given up hope of being rescued like I once had. Thank you.