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Street Stories


Paula was born to a prostitute and never knew her father. Paula’s mother died when she was three, and she was adopted by a family in California. Her childhood ran smoothly until 2006, when her father passed away and her family was forced to move to Nebraska.

Paula didn’t adjust well to the move and began having problems with her mother. When she was a senior in high school, Paula’s mother kicked her out of the house. Paula had nowhere to stay except her friend’s car.

“Living in my friend’s car was very scary,” says Paula. “I was always on edge and I was so ashamed.”

But Paula told her friend she needed a ride to school every day so she could graduate. Eventually, her grades began to drop, and her counselors stepped in.

“I told them I didn’t have anywhere to do my homework and they called my mom,” she says.

After the counselors threatened to call Child Protective Services, Paula’s mother took her back in, but not for long. As soon as Paula graduated, she was out on the streets again. She went to a local shelter and was referred to YES in 2010.

Paula was accepted into YES’ Transitional Living Program and was relieved to have a safe place to live. She immediately found a job and started taking college classes. Paula stayed at YES for 10 months and decided to leave the program early to get an apartment of her own. Paula says what has helped her most is her relationship with her case manager.

“If I’m ever falling or having a hard time, I know she’s there for me,” says Paula.

When Paula was having a hard time keeping up with her bills, her case manager welcomed her back with open arms. Paula has been back at YES since September and is working on a better plan this time. She’s saving money and taking classes at UNO for social work.

“Life is a lot better now,” she says. “I’ve always been a positive person and I know that my worst day isn’t my last day.”