Journey from homelessness
By Gail Wilson
Waking up in the warm comfort of your cozy bed, enjoying a refreshing shower. Relaxing in the convenience of your very own room and home. A yard to play in with your dog. For some Anoka Ramsey Community College students, this aspect of life is but a dream.
Twenty-three year-old Anoka Ramsey Community College student, Angelina Warner, has led a life of homelessness.
“I was pretty much homeless most of my life. My mother would drop me off at other people’s homes so I always lived with other people or I would end up in shelters,” said Warner.
Leaving her family at the age of 17, Warner hoped to finish high school.
“I wanted to graduate school and get my high school diploma,” said Warner.
Warner continued a life of homelessness until less than a year ago.
“I lived with different people. I just couch hopped. I was just kind of staying wherever I stayed. I got a place when I was 22, I just turned 23 a month ago. I haven’t even had my apartment for a full year yet,” said Warner.
According to Thomas Berg, an outreach worker for Hope 4 Youth, a center that helps homeless and at-risk youth, Warner’s situation is still very uncertain.
“She is still considered at-risk until her position is stabilized which is why she still works with the program at Hope 4 Youth to assist with the managing of finances, helping to sort out the bills, and helping to make the monthly budget,” said Berg.
Warner was nearly evicted recently. Her power was turned off as well.
“I am going through a situation right now where they turned my lights off because I don’t have the money to turn my lights back on. But they turned my lights on for me until I can make a payment,” said Warner.
“It takes only a second for youth to go from home to homelessness. If you lose your job or you have a major transition that you can’t make the rent, if you don’t have that assistance, it’s gone,” said Berg.
Berg says Warner is getting lots of support through all her struggles from Hope 4 Youth.
“For Angelina we were able to get her into one of our pilot programs. Not only were we able to cover a portion of it, but we actually have a mentor that comes out with her directly and helps work with her on bills to help manage the debt. Helping bring that down and eventually develop autonomy so she is more comfortable juggling the portion of it with school and with work,” said Berg, a student in psychology at ARCC.
Though all these struggles make Warner’s life very challenging she has something that really keeps her going: a nine month old therapeutic dog named Kanji.
“He is the best. He is awesome. He is my motivation right now. Just him being around, everything is ok. He helps me with wanting to better myself and he keeps me going. The minute I am going to have a mental breakdown he just comes up to me and starts licking me all over my face. Like, ‘just love me, you’ll feel better. Just love me.’ He is very sensitive to my feelings and cuddles with me all the time,” said Warner.
Warner said her dog is a huge factor in her life and who she is becoming.
“I want to give him a better life. I want to better myself. He keeps me wanting to show more improvement in myself. When I get stuck around the wrong people he keeps me away from everything. He keeps me away from all the bad things. He is a little white fluff ball, just full of love,” said Warner, who lives mostly by herself.
Warner’s basic day as an at risk for homelessness student is like most other students for the most part.
“I get up go to school, take care of my dog, do homework, go back to school. That’s my normal day,” said Warner.
Warner believes there are definitely challenges that come with being at risk for homelessness.
“It’s a little difficult at first to get used to. I never had stability growing up so I am learning how to have stability for myself. I am going through my challenges with it. So sometimes I get overwhelmed and start freaking out and thinking something isn’t going right and I am going to lose everything. But I have Kanji and I go down to Hope4youth and I talk to them. They are like: ‘Breathe. It’s okay, we can help you’,” said Warner.
Warner receives all kinds of help from Hope 4 Youth.
“Everything. Clothes, food, bus fare. Bus fare is like a huge thing for me right now. They have helped me with my rent these last couple of months. If I can’t pay for utilities they help me come up with other ideas to get them paid. I can go to the food shelf if I need to,” said Warner.
Despite the many challenges and huge amounts of adversity Warner faces frequently, she has many goals, dreams, and ambitions.
“I want to run my own rescue group. I want to run my own grooming salon. I actually want to run my own zoo. I would love to have my own zoo. Everything is taking a step by step right now. Right now, I need to focus on just finishing my generals and keeping my place. Then getting into zoology. It’s gonna take a while. It’s gonna take a long process,” said Warner.
Warner wishes to share a message of hope to others who are struggling with homelessness or who are at risk.
“There are people out there that are willing to help them. There are people out there willing to give them support. They just have to ask for it. Not everything can be all bad. There is good in all that you do in life,” said Warner, who is planning on staying in school until she graduates.
Warner feels there is much hope for others struggling with homelessness that she is overcoming.
“There is always somewhere to go. There are programs out there. There are programs in every city that I can think of that I know right now. All they have to do is ask anybody and somebody will help you. You are still young so don’t just throw life away because you feel like you don’t have any hope. Just ask and someone will help you. There’s always people out there to help you,” said Warner.
Warner has felt grateful for all the help Hope 4 Youth has given her along her journey back to having a home.
“If it wasn’t for the last month of helping me out, I would definitely be back on the streets,” said Warner.