Stories of Transformation
‘I Am Focused on Getting My Life in Order’
Areanna became homeless in 2016. She bounced around friends’ homes for some time; later, she lived in her car and in a shelter in the Antelope Valley. It was at the shelter that she learned about MHALA’s Transition-age Youth program.
She arrived at the TAY program in Lancaster with nowhere to live and no job. Her TAY team began by finding her a room in which to stay for a few months. During that time, Areanna received her training for her guard card — the certification needed to be able to work as a registered security guard in the state of California.
Areanna was worried about having to drive to get a security job. Through MHALA’s contract with a local driving school, she was able to build her confidence behind the wheel.
“It’s not just about what TAY can do for you,” she says. “It took my hard work as well. You have to get a job. You have to help yourself.”
Areanna transitioned from staying in a motel room with TAY’s assistance to getting her own one-bedroom apartment that she shares with her boyfriend. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, she was able to secure two jobs — one at a grocery store and one with a security company.
“I’ve been really persistent,” she says. “My whole mindset is, now that I’m here, don’t get comfortable. Go for more. I am focused on getting my life in order.”
Her TAY team, she adds, always reminded her to be responsible. “Tay helped me to stay motivated,” she explains. “I would ask about credit, apartments, jobs … they would always teach me to be responsible, persistent, patient. I learned to have a positive outlook on things even if they don’t always go your way.”
After getting guidance from a TAY education specialist, Areanna decided to apply for college. She hopes to begin in the fall.
“My goal is to one day work for MHALA doing peer advocacy,” she says. “I want to be able to help others the same way I was helped.”
Known in TAY for her positive demeanor, drive, and determination, Areanna received the 2019 Student of the Year award at MHALA’s Golden Bell Awards in the Antelope Valley.