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Street Stories


Sarah, 18, never really had a chance to be a child. She describes her own childhood with words like "rough" and "unstable," as her parents married and divorced each other several times. She was sexually and physically abused by her father, who in now in prison for sexually assaulting her. She hasn't spoken to him in six years.

Sarah dropped out of high school as a junior to help her mother pay the bills. She earned her GED and began working. She also interned at an art studio, which she loved. Everything was looking up for Sarah until last summer.

Sarah found out she was pregnant in April 2011. She gave up her internship and started waiting tables full-time, saving every penny she could and making plans for her new life as a mother. When she was 18 weeks along, Sarah miscarried.

"I was devastated," says Sarah. "I had put myself in the mindset to grow up, to be a good mother, and just like that, it was all gone."

Sarah and her boyfriend buried the baby at a nearby Native American reservation. When she returned home, she found it difficult to face her reality. She began smoking marijuana and drinking heavily. As her habits became a problem, she decided to leave her mother's home.

Sarah couch-surfed at friends' houses, and on nights she couldn't find a place to stay, she would wander the streets of downtown Omaha, trying to stay awake and living out of a backpack.

In December, she asked her mother for money to go visit her child's grave. She made the decision to go sober, and as she was sitting at the reservation, she made a life-changing decision.

"I realized if I could sit here and face this despair and face my child sober, then I could face my reality sober," says Sarah. Sarah asked her mother if she could move back in while she got back on her feet.

Sarah began taking her life back into her hands and found YES' website. She applied for the Transitional Living Program and was accepted. Sarah has been sober for more than six months, is working full-time and is applying for art schools.

"I am really grateful for you guys because I'm not sleeping on the streets," says Sarah. "I have a bed, I have a safe place to go every night. I would not be where I am today without YES."