Like many Minnesota families, Cynthia's family lived on the edge of poverty. Not only did her parents suffer from health conditions, but they both had to work two jobs just to get by.
When Cynthia's father died unexpectedly, her mother spiraled into a deep depression. Overwhelmed by the grief of losing her husband and the steadily growing pile of bills, her mother struggled with daily living. That left Cynthia on her own to navigate.
With her mother not able to provide emotional support and money for food increasingly scarce, concentrating at school was an almost impossible task for Cynthia.
It didn't help that teasing from classmates became more frequent, adding to her grief and stress. Soon, Cynthia began skipping school, immersing herself in fantasy books to get a small sense of safety and comfort.
Until now, Cynthia had dodged the pressure from her friend's brother to hang out with a group of guys during the day in an apartment. But, increasingly hungry and struggling to get by, she was starting to reconsider.
Eventually, a social worker made a visit to Cynthia's home. Seeing the neglect and food scarcity, she knew it was in Cynthia's best interest to get out.
To make sure Cynthia was safe, the social worker brought her to one of 180 Degrees' five Emergency Youth Shelters. Cynthia didn't want to leave her mom, but she knew something had to change.
Understandably, it was really hard for Cynthia at first. She resisted the transition to this new, unknown environment with new, unknown people.
Slowly though, with the consistency of a safe and structured space, home cooked meals, and a team of people who genuinely cared about her, Cynthia began to learn to trust.
"Talking with other kids at the shelter made me realize I wasn't alone." Feeling seen by people who understood made a difference. The trust Cynthia gained through these relationships paved the way for discovering new things about herself, and building pathways forward.
[Stay tuned for the third and final part of Cynthia's story!]
With encouragement from Becky, the on-site teacher, Cynthia got back on track in school. She dedicated time to drawing - focusing on something that brought her joy - and taking pride in her unique talents. A case manager even helped Cynthia locate a part-time job within walking distance of her house.
Mental health crises and family dynamics don't resolve instantly. 180 Degrees provides the critical support and connections families need to begin to heal. Throughout Cynthia's shelter stay, she visited her mom regularly while her mom connected with a mental health professional to begin improving her emotional well-being and re-gaining financial stability.
After three months, Cynthia reunited with her mom. Today, if struggles mount again, they both feel more confident about how to seek help and get back on track.
Your gift will connect teens like Cynthia to a safe space when they have no other options.
With your help, youth will have a roof over their head and the resources they need to rebuild family connections and start to heal.
Our goal is to raise $15,000 for youth in crisis before December 31. Will you help?