Emily was about 14 when she got involved with Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc. By then, she said her family had experienced significant trauma “including loss of my baby sister which tremendously effected our lives. My mother got into drugs, my father was in and out of jail. I felt as I was taking care of me and my two younger brothers at the time.”
Emily said things were made even more difficult because one of her brothers was diagnosed with autism and the other has intellectual disabilities. She opened up about her experiences growing up in her application letter for the YAP Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund for Continuing Education Scholarship. Recipients of the $1,000 award are young people served by the organization and their family members who may use the support to further their education or career pursuits.
“By the time I was old enough to know what was going on I was filled with a lot of anger and guilt. My behavior became out of control and I was aggressive, disrespectful and miserable. I was not successful in school nor had reliable friends. I was referred to Youth Advocate Program because of my uncontrollable anger and behavior outburst issues, especially at home.”
Working with her therapists, Emily said she was able to better identify and deal with her emotions. She was also able to see her strengths and put them to work.
“Through the therapy session, I also learned to value myself and look at my accomplishment and not put down from others.”
After graduating high school, Emily got a job at a local amusement park.
“Even though the hours were long, and I was tired, I enjoyed earning income as well as being productive and being relied on. I was told that I was a dependable and hard worker there.”
When the season ended, she was able to get a supervisory job at a local supermarket.
“In June 2018, I received a best employee award from the cooperate office for assisting and supporting disabled employees at the store. My manager often received phone calls from the customers complementing my services, as well as parents of disabled employees for supporting them and assisting them.”
Last fall, Emily enrolled in the Veterinary Technology program at Pittsburgh Career Institute (PCI). Included in her financial aid was a $1,000 Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund Scholarship from YAP.
“I believe with the five years of therapy sessions I was given; YAP has helped me tremendously. I feel that without the therapy through YAP, I am not sure where I would be today. I am happy with the level of my self-esteem, confidence and ability to trust myself and glad that I am able to place aside my negative feeling and thoughts, and focus on positive aspect of my life, and the goals I have for my future.”
Her former YAP team of professionals, who continue to advocate for Emily agree.