05 Nov Opal’s Story of Resilience

Adolescence is hard for a lot of kids.

Even those who have a stable, loving home experience heartbreak, rejection, and challenges of all kinds. But many of the youth who come to the YOC don’t have positive home environments and are faced with challenges that kids should never have to experience. In the midst of it all, these kids have learned how to be strong and how to keep moving forward despite their difficulties. This story is just one of the hundreds of stories of resilience that can be found within the walls of the YOC.

Meet Opal*. She has been in residential placement for four years, one of which has been at the YOC. Growing up, she witnessed a lot of family struggles including drug abuse, incarceration, poverty, gangs, death, and more. As a result, she was forced to fend for herself from a young age. Even now, she does not have a stable home to return to once she gets released from the YOC. But Opal is strong. She is resilient. She is not letting that stop her.

Despite everything she has seen and experienced, Opal is dedicated to overcoming her past in order to accomplish her goals. The very embodiment of resilience, she has relentlessly pursued her education and graduated from high school a year early. Understanding the importance of her future decisions, Opal applied to and was accepted into college this summer, and even gained acceptance into two programs that will provide her with support while in college. She also received the YOC’s Anna Ullom Scholarship, which provides educational funds for youth who have been in placement at the YOC.

As a first-generation college student, Opal’s goal is to become a social worker in order to help other kids overcome their challenges like she has.

“Everything I’ve been through has inspired me to help kids that go through the same things I’ve gone through,” she said. “I want to show kids that are like me to never give up, and to be who they dream to be.”

At the beginning of August 2020, Opal was notified that until a satisfactory discharge plan was in place, she would not be released from the YOC in time to attend in-person college classes. Initially, she was told this meant she would not be able to attend college at all this fall. Not to be deterred, Opal remained positive and was determined to attend college, despite these setbacks.

Through the support of the YOC program staff and independent living team, it was arranged for Opal to attend her classes virtually, just like many other students are doing. Her professors have been supportive and willing to work with her to adapt to and overcome these challenges. The YOC staff that have worked with Opal are all very proud of her resilient and hardworking behavior.

Just like so many others who come through the doors of the YOC, Opal dug deep within herself to overcome every obstacle. Our staff are here to provide guidance and support, but often, they themselves end up learning just a little bit about resilience along the way.


*name changed for privacy

This story is taken from the 2019 – 2020 Annual Report. To view the full report click here.