In Their Own Words

  • Today was my first day of college classes. I was not on the class roster. I was told at the registrar that they have not received payment for this semester. They tell me if the check from NJ Scholars isn’t here by Wednesday of next week I will not be able to remain in class.

  • I know I needed to be in class today, but I couldn’t get out of bed. Today was the anniversary of my mother’s murder.

  • I had to list an emergency contact on an employment form today. I couldn’t think of anyone who would care so I wrote my caseworker’s name and the Roots & Wings office number.

  • I was invited to dinner at someone’s house and I’ve never eaten around a kitchen table before and I didn’t know what to do or say or where to look. I couldn’t wait to leave.

  • I have so many debts and now I’ve lost my job and I’m worried that I can’t keep up with my debt plan can I even concentrate on school? I get collection calls all the time.

  • I sit alone in my apartment at night. I know I’m finally safe, but it’s lonely and the night is long....what do I do?

  • When I meet people what do I say about myself? I don’t want them to know I’m in a program...or about my life. What do I say?

  • I need to get to the bank (it’s two miles away), the grocery store (it’s a mile away) and do my laundry (another mile in a different direction) I have to walk all these places. It takes so long to get things done.

  • I get through the checkout at the grocery store and I am $15 short. I have to ask the cashier to start removing groceries from the bags to bring my order down. The line behind me is getting longer. The cashier looks annoyed.

  • For my sociology class I am to interview the woman in my life who has most inspired and influenced me. The other students are interviewing their mothers, grandmothers, girl-scout leaders, coaches…I have no one to interview.

  • I have a paper due tomorrow and I have to work today. The computer lab at school will be closed by the time I get off of work, what am I going to do?

These statements reflect the everyday struggles of the young adults accessing the servic­es of Roots & Wings. Although provided with case management, counseling, and a men­tor, these young adults struggle daily to overcome the obstacles of growing up without the capable support of a family. Based on the theory of Empowerment*, Roots & Wings works with these young adults to set achievable goals and supports them in navigating the obstacles that get in their way.

*Empowerment is the process by which individuals and groups gain power, access to resources and control over their own lives. In doing so, they gain the ability to achieve their highest personal and collective aspirations and goals” (Robbins, Chatterjee, & Canda, 1998, p.91)