Making Great Strides

YouthCare's James W. Ray Orion Center

LaShawnta first came through the doors of YouthCare’s James W. Ray Orion Center in 2013, interested in the Barista Training and Education Program, as well as GED services. She was homeless and struggling with severe mental health issues as a result of a life filled with trauma. LaShawnta entered YouthCare’s on-site GED program and began the Barista program, but quickly found that she was not sufficiently stable, both physically and mentally, to engage in and meet the demands of the programs.

LaShawnta felt disheartened by the many barriers she faced, but still expressed a strong desire for a job and stability. During drop-in hours at the Orion Center, LaShawnta met one of YouthCare’s case managers, Corey Perrien, a staff member dedicated to helping young people find employment, and they began to discuss her goals around school and employment.

She enrolled in case management with Corey, and over the next several months, LaShawnta worked on building up her stability. Her wrap-around staff team at YouthCare, including Corey, provided support and encouragement to LaShawnta, helping her to address one issue at a time, celebrating her successes and working through the disappointments. She was also able to begin addressing her mental health needs.

As her stability increased, LaShawnta began to more proactively discuss internship opportunities with her case manager. She led a search for opportunities, and reported feeling encouraged by the sense of productivity that her search gave her. She was eventually taken on as a clerical intern at an office in South Seattle.

Corey implemented an internship collaboration for LaShawnta, with wages paid by YouthCare, and was a strong source of support for her throughout her internship. With Corey to go to for troubleshooting and advice, and to celebrate her successes, LaShawnta thrived in her role as an intern.

She successfully completed her internship in September, and had been such an impressive intern that she was offered a permanent paid position. Additionally, LaShawnta found a second job at a local retail store, and is currently working on finding stable housing. Once she is settled into a comfortable schedule with her jobs and has found long term housing, LaShawnta will slowly reintegrate GED classes into her routine.

LaShawnta is extremely excited for and proud of the dramatic increase in stability that she fought for and found. With people to encourage her, provide guidance, to celebrate her triumphs, and help her explore answers to the question, “what’s next?” LaShawnta moved herself into a healthy situation with a bright future ahead. She has displayed incredible resilience and has made truly remarkable achievements.