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When Shay was 10 she witnessed the murder of her mother, father and sister. Reeling from the trauma and grieving the loss of her family, she went to live with a relative. The next few years were challenging and Shay felt herself getting off-track.

“I guess you could say I went out of control,” she remembers. “I started sneaking out of the house. I was going to parties. I was drinking. It was just a really bad situation.” Struggling to find her footing, she spent several years moving between group homes and foster care.

With encouragement from her social worker, Shay came to YWCA St. Paul and enrolled in the IMPACT Program. Through IMPACT, she’s gained paid work experience and so much more. “I’ve met awesome people here,” Shay says. “The YW has given me a lot of opportunities to learn and grow.”

Working as a program aide in YW’s Youth Achievers Program (YAP) Shay discovered a passion for youth work. Whether assisting with homework, providing encouragement when someone is having a rough day or helping kids to try new things, Shay loves her work and thinks it may be her calling. “I want to help youth grow up and get the help they need,” she explains.

“I want to help youth grow up and get the help they need.”


Having attended 10 schools over the course of 12 years, Shay is proud to have graduated from high school on-time. She recently completed her first year of college, and is looking forward to discovering what’s next. “I was stuck in misery for a long time,” she says. “Now I’m out of it and I’m loving my life.”

YWCA St. Paul will be closed on Monday, Jan. 20 in observation of MLK day.
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