No better word captures Triston than “humble.” There’s a softness about him, a genuine
sense of gratitude. Start a conversation and within minutes you’ll see the twinkle, the
pensive grin of someone who is deeply reflective and wise beyond his years.
Like most young people who come to YouthCare, Triston wasn’t dealt an easy hand. Following a serious incident of domestic abuse, Triston was separated from his parents at age 13 and placed in foster care. From there, he bounced around between group homes until his seventeenth birthday when he became legally emancipated. With nowhere to go and no one to turn to for help, he became homeless on the streets of Seattle. He struggled to make ends meet—doing everything he could just to survive.
“When you’re homeless, the world’s still spinning and you’re stuck in a stagnant place
that is very discomforting. Your main concern is feeding yourself and staying safe. It’s
hard to imagine anything beyond that reality,” says Triston.
One day, he got that chance: a friend had recently gotten housing through YouthCare
and put Triston in touch with Joe, a YouthCare case manager. Through Joe’s steady
encouragement and support, Triston’s transformation began to unfold.
“I’ve had a lot of mentors in my life, but Joe’s different,” reflects Triston. “He never looked at me for my flaws. He looked at me for my potential, and he tried every day to bring that out in me. I always felt like he was somebody who was more than a friend, not yet family.”
Through YouthCare’s Open Doors Program, which offers young people rental subsidies for
apartments, Joe helped Triston find housing. With a warm place to call home, Triston was
able to start looking for work. He was offered a job working at an Audi dealership and
loved being part of a successful team. For the first time in years, his life became stable.
Three years after meeting Joe, Triston is living in his own place in South Lake Union with
his two-year-old daughter and going to school. “The most important thing in my future that I
really want to achieve is that I don’t want to die an old man and have my last thoughts go
to the fact that I didn’t leave anything for my children or grandchildren, or give them a fair
start. That’s why I’m in school and working so hard.”
This past September, as the leaves turned gold, Triston stepped onto his college campus. He’s studying green real estate so he can help build communities that are not dependent on fossil fuels.
Reflecting on his time at YouthCare, Triston says:
“When people walk down the street and see a young person who is homeless, they don’t usually stop to think, ‘Hey, this is somebody who could be great. This is somebody that can do something better than what they are, but they just don’t have the opportunity to do it.’ That’s what YouthCare did for me.”