Youth Wraparound Support Partner- Columbia County
Desiree hails from Maplewood, New Jersey and is a recent transplant to the PNW. In her life, Desiree has overcome abuse and abandonment by her biological father, PTSD, bullying, depression, and coming out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
As a young child, Desiree was a victim of domestic violence, as were her mother and brother. Her mom sent her to live with her grandparents in Trinidad and Tobago after Desiree saw her jump from a two story window to save her life. As a teenager, she was bullied and struggled with anger management. She would get into fights with other kids at school and in the community. Desiree believes that her love of school was her saving grace; it enabled her to get out of her neighborhood and make a fresh start.
At 18, Desiree enrolled at Penn State University and began working toward a degree in Biology. Although things seemed to be looking up, Desiree silently struggled to accept her sexuality, as her culture and family disapproved of homosexuality. Desiree dealt with her depression by using marijuana as a form of self-medication. She stopped attending classes, her grades fell, and she struggled to maintain a circle of friends. At 24, Desiree had come to terms with her sexuality and decided, after years of self-doubt and isolation, to come out to her friends and family.
Desiree’s mother, a born-again Christian, had trouble accepting her lifestyle, which resulted in them not speaking for a year. During this time, Desiree joined Americorps and worked with at-risk youth in her college community. After finally finding her calling, Desiree decided to pursue a career helping youth overcome their hardships. Desiree has spent the last five years working with runaway and homeless youth. She strives to help each young person she works with understand that their past does not define their future and that they can overcome any hardship with a positive attitude, patience, and understanding.
Desiree has since reconciled with her mom, is enjoying her new life in the PNW, and continues to look forward to the new and exciting adventures she has yet to experience. She believes that "life isn’t about the mistakes we’ve made, but the lessons we’ve learned."