Alumni Spotlight: Zion
Meet Zion, a past resident of Casa Youth Shelter’s Residential Shelter Care Program.
Zion, a sophomore at California State University, Fullerton, is studying Theater and is currently a candidate for the prestigious BFA in Theatre Arts with an acting concentration. Read on to learn more about Zion’s experience at Casa Youth Shelter and his views on hope and adversity.
What would you like to share with us about your experience at Casa Youth Shelter?
I came to Casa Youth Shelter to escape an abusive home. The experience was surreal at first, because I didn’t have to look over my shoulder anymore, and I could just be myself. What I remember most is the kindness of the staff. In particular, I remember the Youth Supervisors: Rae, who was the most comforting person in the world to me; Lea, who ignited hope in me and taught me that I don’t have to give up; Kelly, who helped me realize I could trust everyone here; and Anthony, who I had wished my father was like.
What advice would you give to a teen in a similar situation?
To not be afraid to ask for help or to talk to a friend. It took some time, but I opened up to a friend and her mom was able to help. She is the one who referred me to Casa Youth Shelter.
How has your life changed in the time that’s passed since your stay at Casa Youth Shelter?
More than anything, I want to share that I am happy. I didn’t think I would make it past 16 or 18. I thought I would die at home or by suicide. Now, I am grateful and happy for the good and the bad. Through adversity, I learned how to brace myself and soldier on. Hope used to be dangerous, because wanting led to disappointment, but it is hope that kept me alive. I know my worth now and I’m not going to let anything in my path stop me.
Who is someone you admire, and why?
I admire [Youth Supervisor] Anthony. He is positive every day, no matter what’s going on. He is a wonderful paternal figure. Every time he saw me, he would check to see how I was doing. When I visit, he still checks to make sure I’m okay. He cares. What’s more inspiring is that he does it out of his heart. He doesn’t have to be here, and he goes above and beyond. He is selfless, which I aspire to be every day.
What are three words that describe you?
Hopeful, persistent and self-assured.
Zion is just one of the many who have come through our doors seeking a safe place and support in a time of crisis. His story is inspirational to all of us and a reminder of the potential of every youth that comes to Casa Youth Shelter for help. Learn more about our Residential Shelter Care Program here.