Katrina YouthLink

When Katrina was growing up, she “bumped heads” with her mom often- they struggled to get along. When she turned 18, they got into a serious argument, and her mom told her to move out.

“We had been fighting and bickering, and she wanted me to leave,” Katrina recalled. “I bounced around and stayed with various friends. I was just in survival mode for a while because I didn’t know what was next.”

When she ran out of places to stay, Katrina went to a homeless shelter. She had a job but didn’t make enough money to get her own apartment.

“It was really hard, of course,” Katrina said. “But I identified being homeless as a situation that was part of my journey, not who I was.”

Katrina heard about two Greater Twin Cities United Way partner organizations, YouthLink and CommonBond Communities, who provide housing and supportive services to youth who have experienced homelessness. She applied and was accepted to their housing program in South Minneapolis.

“After being homeless, I got to take my clothes out of a bag and put them into a closet. I got to lay down in a bed and it was mine. Thanks to United Way’s support, I was no longer worried about where I was going to sleep or eat.”

Through United Way and YouthLink, Katrina was paired with a transition coach named Sunnie who helped her navigate things like living on her own, transportation, getting a better job, and personal development.

“Before, I never asked for help,” Katrina said. “But I thought okay, how about I give this program a chance? Sunnie has impacted my life a lot- she has been my biggest supporter.”

“Katrina is articulate, creative, and a hard worker,” Sunnie said. “I believe by coming to this program, she changed the trajectory of her path.”

Katrina has now been in YouthLink and CommonBond’s program for three years. She enjoys working as a server at a senior living home and is on better terms with her mom. She also started a GED program this year with the goal of receiving her high school diploma and going to college.

“Programs like these funded by United Way are so helpful,” she said. “I feel like kids don’t think we have help but there’s so much help here in Minnesota. I believe our experiences are our best teachers, and I’ve come a long way.”