• Maryam

    Maryam began attending YWCA St. Paul Youth programs at age 14, and committed to regular attendance for four years. Now as a high school senior, she has gained the skills and experience to be the first in her family to attend college. Watch Video
  • Shay

    At just 18, Shay has faced both adversity and trauma. Her experiences have transformed her into a passionate advocate for youth and someone determined to make a difference in the lives of others. Watch Video
  • Rakeem

    Lacking a stable support system throughout his childhood, Rakeem came to the YWCA looking to build new relationships and stay on the right path. Today, thanks to the network of support he found through IMPACT, he is focused on earning his high school diploma. Watch Video
  • Khalique

    At the YWCA, Khalique not only found a job but a positive path. Watch Video
  • Quintin

    Quintin has made great academic strides with help from the Youth Achievers Program and Project Able. Watch Video
  • Nena

    Nena quickly became involved in the YWCA’s opportunities to connect with other young people and to make a difference in her community. She also flourished when it came to defining her educational goals and took advantage of exposure to employment and career opportunities for the future. Watch Video


Pursuing Learning & Growth

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 the YWCA 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 the YWCA 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.

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.”

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