Over the last few years, I have been working with a dynamic, strong young woman of colour who has been able to take all the horrific crap life has thrown at her and still managed to make a practical plan for her future and to follow her dreams…… until now.
Together we can help change a life. Please take a moment to read this and consider if you are able to provide any support to this 17 year old girl.
In the last year, she had been working 30-50 hours a week while completing all her high school credits so she was in a position to graduate this year with her peers. She saved up this money for 2 main reasons – to have enough money to move out from a very, very, very unsafe situation and also to have enough money to pay for college next year. In the Spring, she moved out and was incredibly successful but then something terrible happened.
A few weeks ago, she was walking alone at night and was jumped/robbed by a group of girls. After being pushed to the ground and beaten, she went into a rage and fought back. When the police arrived on the scene, the other girls said she started it and the police charged her with assault. She was incarcerated for 8 days until video evidence revealed that she was the victim.
During her incarceration she was treated with the typical brutality of someone who the system assumes is guilty. It was also during this time that someone in the system took advantage of her.
Somewhere along the way, a police officer or prison worker recommended she pay for her own lawyer – and they gave her a specific name. Alone, in fear and imprisoned, she was convinced to pay this lawyer $1200 to represent her. No one in the system provided her any support or advice about legal aid, as far as she can recall.
Upon being released and returning to the room she was renting, things got even worse. It has been my experience that people who are willing to rent out a room to teenaged girls rarely have the best of intentions and this time is no different. The situation in that house had changed and it was no longer physically safe for her to be there.
She would have had enough money for first and last month’s rent somewhere else, but the lawyer fees drained her savings. She is struggling with the trauma of prison, the trauma of assault, some of her past traumas being triggered and now homelessness.
Incredibly, she has still managed to keep all 3 of her part-time jobs.
A team of us are working with her to make sure she graduates on time and gets into the college program of her choice as well as provide her with mental health options.
WE COULD USE YOUR HELP
1) Let’s get her the $1200 back. The system took $1200 away from her – I am hoping our community can restore this injustice and give it back to her. The fastest way to do this is via an online ‘chip-in’ donation. It’s totally secure and you can share the link among your networks. If you’d prefer other ways to donate, just let me know. If we raise over $1200, I will use the rest to pay for her college application fees and food gift certificates.
DONATION PAGE: http://michaelerickson.chipin.com/help-a-youth-find-a-home-and
2) Let’s help her rent a room somewhere safe. She still needs somewhere to stay. It must be in an all-female home and be drug-free (both her request). She will probably be able to pay market rate rent. I can vouch for her maturity, responsibility, warmth and kindness. I would rent a room to her if I could.
In addition to this, I know some of you have special skills and connections. We could also use support with the following:
A) We’d like to track down this lawyer who charged her to represent her. We could use some support and advice from other lawyers or law students on how best to proceed.
B) If you know of any free, long-term mental health support without an 8 month waiting list or a complex in-take process, please let me know.