Stephanie, 25- El Paso, TX

“I became homeless when I lost my father in 2009 to cancer. I was really close with him and that hurt a lot.  I was living with my mom after that but my step-dad over-drank to the point where I just couldn’t deal with it.

She is for my Autism. I have high-functioning Autism on the Asperger’s side of the spectrum. It affects your socialization skills but it affects me mostly emotionally. With Autism, you handle emotions through repetitive nature: I will bang my head against the wall when I’m really upset. She will start whining, yelping, and will lick me to get my attention.  If I’m having a bad dream, she’ll lay on top of me like a security blanket. It’s even harder being homeless when you have Autism because it’s so difficult to communicate with people. I feel lonely a lot of the time and when I need help it’s almost impossible for me to get my message across to someone willing to listen.”


I’ve had a few service dogs now; they have all fulfilled their duty. They’ve protected me at all costs, even when it put them in danger. My German Shepherd got shot a few years ago. He was a retired police dog, very brave, very strong. He would sleep over me and growl at drunk people who would get too close or anyone with a weapon.

I was in Flagstaff trying to get some rest and this drugged up guy came up and tried to lead me off to rape me. My dog growled and led me into a more populated area but the guy kept following us. He started growling at the him ferociously. People started wondering why and then they saw the gun. They stepped out of the way and I gave my dog the command and he went straight at his arm holding the gun. He was shot and killed in the process. He was charged with murdering a policeman because the dog was a retired K-9 unit dog.  But he probably saved my life. This was when I was carrying my daughter, I didn’t feel safe being there anymore so I came to Texas.”


“The first time I was diagnosed with Leukemia I was ten. It lasted until I was 16. It came back when I was 20 and in and out of shelters. I was carrying a kid at the time as well so at first they couldn’t do any treatment. Luckily it wasn’t as strong as it was the first time, I didn’t need to do chemo like I did when I was younger. I got some radiation therapy though and it makes your skin very sensitive and you bruise very easily.

I was carrying my son at the time and my daughter, Annabelle Marie is the oldest at 3. I gave her up for adoption since I couldn’t take care of her at the time. I still keep in contact with the family. It was a little hard, but I understood I couldn’t take care of her. I was carrying her while I was homeless as well. When I was about a week off from her due date, I went to a place where homeless or impoverished people who can’t take care of their kids go to put them up for adoption. I did the same thing with my son, Lauren who is almost 2.”


“I wish people would be more understanding to be able to help people like us. All they really say to us is to go get a job. That doesn’t help us. Most job places won’t give us work. Even if I could work, I couldn’t get a job with my I.D. being stolen and no contact information. People are not the only ones who are targeted for things getting stolen from them, but they think the homeless are the ones that are going to steal it from them. That’s not true.  , I’ve had my things stolen from me by people who aren’t homeless.

Truthfully, most homeless youths are not out there to try and hurt people. We just want to be understood by everyone. We don’t like to be considered scourge. We’re not going to cause anybody else to be homeless. We don’t want anybody else to be homeless. It’s not a fun life. It’s very painful and harsh. It makes most of us sad. We’re just misunderstood. People afraid of us, in a sense. They don’t actually show it but that’s what it seems like. You have to learn to keep your hopes high but still wait for the worst and expect to have a lot of doors slammed in your face.”



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