My mom had no family support and no education and was left to take care of 3 children, myself and two younger brothers. Needing a place to stay on many cold nights and food to eat, we pretty much bounced around house to house, shelter to shelter.
My name is Satrice. I am 28 years old and was born and raised in Jersey City. My mother gave birth to me when she was only 15 years old and my biological father was murdered when I was just two months old. Things were very rough for my mom, raising a newborn on her own. She fell in love with a guy name Travis and had two more children with him before she was 18. My dad, Travis, suffered from drug addiction which made him very abusive physically and mentally. My mom had no family support and no education and was left to take care of three children, myself and two younger brothers. Needing a place to stay on many cold nights and food to eat, we pretty much bounced around house to house, shelter to shelter.
When I was 14, I began running away from home thinking I could escape the poverty and my unfair childhood. What I didn’t know was that I was running to a life of homelessness, drug dealing and other illegal activities. I still attended Lincoln High School in Jersey City but I got into a lot of fights in and out school and eventually dropped out in the 10th grade. I tried going back home but my mother didn’t want anything to do with a child who had abandoned her home, so there I was again looking for love and support.
A man at the Urban League in Jersey City told me about a homeless shelter for youth called Covenant House. He gave me a ride to Newark on that hot afternoon of August 17th, 2007 and my new life began. I was angry, tired, hungry, scared and very uncomfortable the day I arrived at Covenant House, but I knew I was ready for a change. I was given my own bed which I hadn’t had in a long time and was allowed to wash my bag of dirty clothes. A youth advisor assured me I was now in a safe place.
While at Covenant House I met wonderful people whom I wasn’t always so polite to. But they were still determined to meet my needs where they needed to be met. Covenant House provided me with a therapist who is still here. Sarah helped me focus on my depression which I developed from all the things I’ve been through in my life. I began applying for alternative high schools and looking for my first job. I was hired at Newark airport by a company called Superior as a wheelchair transporter. After a few months of saving money I moved in to the new Covenant House Rights of Passage program. I actually helped cut the ribbon on this new transitional program because I was part of the very first group of women to live there. I stayed at Rights of Passage, continued to work and go to school. I obtained my high school diploma in 2009 and moved out into my first apartment.
Covenant House played a major part in who I am today. The staff here helped me believe in myself and supported me through all my tough times even when I wasn’t the easiest person to get along with. They taught me how to be respectful, focus on my mental health, how to obtain employment, but most of all, how to be independent and to live on my own. They even helped me land my first corporate job as the receptionist at Covenant House International in New York City and later the administrative assistant to Jim White!
Over the years I have tried to give back by going to schools with the Outreach Team and talking to students about homelessness and trying to help them from getting into situations like me. I have met with supporters to help get them involved in the great work here so we could keep the doors open for some of the millions of other homeless youth across the state, looking for a place to call home, somewhere to get a hot meal or even just some love and support. Covenant House is definitely that place.
Today I am working at Integrity House in Secaucus, where I am a facility coordinator helping to support adults who suffer from substance abuse. I live here in Newark in my beautiful apartment where I am focusing on going back to school to get a degree in the criminal justice field. I want to obtain my license to become a counselor for substance abuse.
So here I am at the age of 28 with no children yet just trying to be all I can be, with the help and support from so many great staff members here at Covenant House who are always just a phone call away or whose office doors are always still open to me whenever I need them.
I slept out at the very first Young Professional Sleep Out back in 2013 and raised almost $10,000 for Covenant House youth. Thank you for getting involved and supporting Covenant House. It is because of God first and all of you that I was given a chance. You are making it possible for the doors here at Covenant House to stay open so many more youth still to come are given the same chance as me – to be the best that they can be.
Are you a youth in need of help?