Mike Kendall wasn’t expecting to see YES’ familiar face as he went in the ring to announce a professional mixed martial arts (MMA) event in Omaha. But he was pleasantly surprised.
Mike stayed at the YES Emergency Shelter when he was in high school, and he says though he had almost forgotten about his short time at YES, he was happy to see YES was still helping youth in crisis.
Mike didn’t have much structure growing up in rural Texas with his mother. He moved to West Omaha with his father and step-family when he was 11, and didn’t adjust well to the changes.
“It was a tough transition, growing up one way and then totally flip-flopping -- it was a culture shock,” says Mike.
As he got older, Mike found it more and more difficult to get along with his stepmother. He began running away regularly and sleeping in parks and at friends’ houses. He got mixed up in the wrong crowd, and finally his parents had enough.
“My parents were looking for help and looking at every resource they could find,” says Mike. They found the YES shelter and told Mike it was time to go.
Mike said he was nervous at first but felt at ease pretty quickly once he arrived at the shelter.
“I met kids who were going through the same things I was,” he says. “And the staff were key -- no one ever wants to listen to their parents telling them what to do, but hearing it from someone else was different.”
Mike spend about two weeks at YES before he moved on to a long-term program at another organization. He now enjoys his successes as a professional MMA announcer and construction worker. But he says YES has a special place in his heart.
“There’s definitely a need for these services and there always will be,” he says. “It’s hard for kids to relate to their families. YES is a buffer. It’s necessary in a lot of situations when things become too chaotic at home.”