Kierra was 16 when she started coming to Rare Breed Youth Services. Now, the 22-year-old mother reflects on what it was like being a homeless teenager in Springfield.
Kierra says when you are homeless, you have to be constantly on the move. Finding a safe place to sleep at night and making sure your things don’t get stolen is a priority. Rare Breed was the main place she could spend her time. At first, Kierra needed all the resources offered. Rare Breed was a safe place Kierra could shower, change clothes, do laundry, and get a meal. It was also a place to talk with case managers, meet new people, and find peace through art.
“Art therapy is huge for me. I love to paint,” says Kierra.
Kierra sees Rare Breed as a tight-knit community. Every person walking through the doors is struggling. She has learned that people need to feel seen and heard and need space to process everything going on in their lives. Everyone’s situation is different, and the staff is good at recognizing individual needs.
“I feel comfortable asking for what I need. They always make you feel warm and welcome,” says Kierra.
As a young mother, Kierra now uses Rare Breed to access resources available for pregnant and parenting youth. Caring for a baby as as single parent can be difficult. Kierra can access diapers, formula, and other baby supplies and talk with her case manager. Kierra’s case manager connected her with a maternity home to stay in while she was pregnant and mental health services.
Now, Kierra is living with her mom and seven siblings in an apartment. Kierra tries not to rely on her mom and helps take care of her family when she is able. Kierra has made a lot of progress towards her goals. She now works as a hairstylist and hopes to own her own home by the time she is thirty. Kierra’s advice to other youth is to not let others mold the person you are and stay true to yourself.
Kierra is one of over 500 youth helped by The Kitchen’s Rare Breed Youth Services program. Your support helps Kierra and other young people find a path out of homelessness.