You know how people come and go in our lives. We've all heard the famous quotes about them leaving footprints in our hearts. Well, in March, I met a girl with some pretty big footprints.
Jessie is homeless. She's 17, almost 18. She was dropped off by her drug addict father when she was 14 at a shelter filled to the brim with middle aged homeless men.
She's a fighter. She made her way through the town and found a youth organization and shelter called WIND in Sacramento. She thrived. She hasn't given up. She works at the shelter a few days a week, and attends high school.
I am not sure where her family or parents are now. She says her earliest life memories are of riding the BART (bay area public transportation) around with both of her badly drug addicted parents to have a place to rest. She's never had a "home".
When I met her, it was at an open house event to help raise funds for the shelter she lives, works, and goes to school at. She was my tour guide, and when I met her, I thought she was a youth counselor at the facility. But, after the tour was over, I asked one of the directors about her. He said, "isn't she great. She's been with us for a while now."
It's amazing to me that someone who's been through so much carries no "pity me" around with her. She doesn't come off negative, and as she showed me around I was impressed by her with out knowing her background.
Jessie is graduating from high school next week. I was so touched that she invited me to come and watch.
She is so inspiring. She's taught me so much about life in just the few conversations we have had. She's a beautiful person, and I know she is strong willed enough to make a positive difference in the world.
Right now, she is looking for a full time job. She is trying to get her things in order, because as soon as she turns 19, she can no longer stay at the shelter.
It's odd because I remember being so scared when I graduated high school. I was so nervous about the transition to college and moving away from my parents. I was completely supported through everything, and I always knew I could go home if things didn't work out.
She doesn't have that option. And I have yet to hear her complain.
My one hope for her is that she continues to inspire. I want to see her succeed and change people's lives. I know she is capable of it. She's sure made a big impact on mine.
You know when you come across one of those people who makes you stop and think? Someone who just blows you away? She's that person. You can read about what she recently did with the organization I work for here.
I wanted to share her story and thought maybe it would inspire another person.
Life isn't always easy for us, but we have to make the best of what we've got. And maybe by living our life that way, we can leave some footprints in people's lives along the way.