It’s easy to forget what life was like at 18. Transitioning into adulthood
is difficult. It’s especially difficult for youth who live in unsafe
environments and lack support systems. Many young women in the
Reno area are living this reality. Their unfortunate situations have left
them homeless and directionless.
These women’s primary concerns are finding a safe place to sleep every
night and stretching the little money they have to pay for essentials.
Without the skills to thrive independently and without families to
guide them down successful paths, where can they turn?
The Nevada Youth Empowerment Project gives young women a place
to feel safe and supported. Our staff truly cares. We teach crucial
life lessons that change the way these women view the world. We
give them the knowledge and resources they need to become self-
sufficient. As these young women change their futures, they change
their children’s futures.
If you are like me, you grew up with at least one caring parent who
made sure you had everything you needed to succeed.
Let’s come together in love and support
and help these women have the same.
Let’s give them new beginnings.
I came to NYEP because I was tired
of couch hopping and wanted to
do something with my life.
That lifestyle was cool at first, just doing
whatever whenever, but it gets old. I had a
friend who went through NYEP’s program. She
graduated high school, got a certificate from
TMCC and is working for $14/hour at a health
clinic. I want something like that. So, I’m here,
working the program. I volunteer at SPCA and
am starting my certificate training soon.
My mom kicked me out because I’m gay. We were fighting all of the time. I couldn’t stand
how it was making me feel. I connected with a local LGBT Center, and they told me about
NYEP. I was so scared. I hadn’t lived anywhere but with my mom, and she really only
allowed me to go to school and that was it.
It wasn’t long after moving into NYEP
that I finished my associate’s degree.
I also started a second job and began growing my circle of friends through clubs and
groups I joined. NYEP gave me stability and the encouragement and support I needed to
keep up such a busy schedule and succeed.
I left home when I was 16 because I was tired
of the chaos. My mom was a part-time mom.
One day she’d be all over me for not going
to school, then she’d not say a word when I’d
miss a week taking care of my little brother.
I got sucked into drinking, drugs, and sex. At
my lowest moments, I would go into homeless
youth centers for food or just a safe place to
nap. I stopped into the Eddy House while in
Reno and was referred to NYEP.
I’ve been here 3 months and
it’s the longest I’ve stayed
somewhere in the last 4 years.
I started volunteering my first week here and
the place offered me a job. The staff at NYEP
make me feel the most supported I’ve ever
felt. I mean, people are supportive, but the
staff here really question what you are doing,
how you plan to get it done, how you’ll get the
resources to do it, all so you have everything
you need to be successful. Now, I know if I fail
it’s because of me.
Growing up, I witnessed and experienced severe
abuse and mistreatment. I spent several years in
foster care as a teenager, and, after I aged out at 18,
I lived in an adult group home. There, I was allowed
to stay in my comfort zone and avoid dealing with
my problems and emotions. Then, my social worker
referred me to NYEP. When I got to NYEP, I had
to recognize that because I had dropped out of
school, I had given up on having a better life. But I
also learned to believe that with consistent effort I
could turn things around.
I began to learn how to respect
others and ask for respect in return.
I’ve always been charismatic and loving. I can draw
a crowd wherever I go and I take a lot of pride in
being helpful. I know the skills I’m gaining, such
as being a better communicator and getting more
involved in the community, will help me with my
long-term goals. NYEP helped me complete my high
school proficiencies and attend certificate training.
My mother was addicted to drugs when I was a child. She married a man
who began to sell me for the weekend when I was only 11 years old. I’m
sure you can imagine the mental and physical problems this has caused
me. When I was 13, my grandmother drove to where I was and saved
me. I greatly appreciate that my grandmother was able to get me out of
the horribly abusive situation with my mother’s husband, but she was
not able to support me in making a home of my own. So, she brought
me to NYEP. After moving in, I began to realize how dependent I was. In
the beginning, there were many times that I felt kind of removed from
the moment. NYEP helped me with that. The staff helps with wake ups,
reminder lists, and calendars. They are available to help me figure things
out or understanding, which has been the best for me. I have one year
Iof high school left. I feel healthy. And, can’t wait to see
what the future holds for me.
This is my second time at NYEP. I came here
the first time because I didn’t have anywhere
to live. I was trouble last time I was here. I
argued with staff left and right and spent a
lot of time trying to figure out how to get out
of the program. But it was rough when I left. I
thought a lot about what I had at NYEP when I
wasn’t there anymore. The staff really cares at
NYEP. They don’t just tell you what you need to
do, but they come find you and see if you need
anything, or confront you about why you aren’t
doing something. They make it their mission
to make sure you are doing what you said you
would do. I need that. I know that now. I start
my certificate training soon so I can make
enough money to have a nice life.
I don’t know what it is exactly, but
being here makes me believe in myself.
JEWELENE I was born in Las Vegas and lived there most
of my life with my grandparents and three
former younger brothers. My mother is mentally ill and
could not provide a safe home environment,
causing me to be depressed and anxious. I
had trouble attending school to better myself.
I really needed a safe place to live so I could
finish school and learn the skills I needed to
become independent. After moving to NYEP,
I blossomed. I was able to finish high school,
which in turn opened up many possibilities. One
part of the program I really enjoyed was getting
to volunteer regularly at The Boys and Girls
Club. I really think I’m caring, honest, and funny
and NYEP helped me see that.
Because of NYEP, I believe I will
have a happy life and a place
of my own—something I never
saw for myself in the past.
NINA I was abused by my mother and placed in foster
care at a young age. When I was 17, I had already
former completed high school, so my social worker
referred me to NYEP’s independent living
program. After moving in, I pushed boundaries and
broke house rules. The staff didn’t give up on me,
though. Unlike other places I had lived,
NYEP didn’t ignore or avoid my antics. They
spent time teaching me why there are rules.
I also learned the benefits of adopting new
lifestyle choices, including keeping a calendar,
getting adequate rest, healthy eating, positive
relationships, and critical thinking. But I was in
a hurry to get out and really didn’t pay attention
like I should have. I ended up having a child and
was extremely stressed. I kept visiting with NYEP
staff but I was hiding my growing depression and
daily reliance on drugs and alcohol. Eventually, I
landed in jail and lost my child to the system. That
put me over the edge. I fell into full depression
and spent several months homeless before asking
to be readmitted to the NYEP program. After
returning, I felt a desire to truly know and work on
myself. I try to be helpful to staff and be ready to
give positive guidance to new residents. I work two
part-time jobs, attend certificate training, and raise
my son. I finally feel like I am part of a family.
I moved to NYEP shortly after my 18th birthday. I had been living with my Grammy, but then
my mom went to jail again and all of my siblings came, which didn’t leave any room for me.
My social worker told me about NYEP. When I moved in, I really didn’t like coming out of my
room. Looking back, I was depressed and believed I didn’t belong. My mother allowed me to
be molested when I was a child, which caused a lot of mental and physical difficulties for me.
NYEP helped me to get on top of the
things that were holding me down.
Now, I work with people with disabilities and have my own apartment with 2 cats that I love.
I don’t think I could have gotten to this point without NYEP’s guidance and support. They
are still there for me to this day. I love them.
Me and my adoptive mom were fighting every day, so she asked me
to leave. I couch hopped for a while, then applied and was accepted
to Job Corps. I was kicked out after three months. I just didn’t take
things seriously. When staff would tell me to quiet down, get to
work, or do something specific, I would smart mouth back or be
oppositional for attention. A friend’s mom let me stay with her for a
couple weeks before moving out of the area. During that time,
I was at the library and someone told
me about NYEP. I just showed up. Monica
interviewed me and moved me in the next day.
I’m finishing my high school proficiencies right now and am
interested in a career in welding. Being here at NYEP makes me
feel safe so I can behave differently than I normally do and make a
change in my life.
After my mom died, I moved in with my dad
and stepmom. I began using drugs heavily.
Although I did manage to finish school and
hold a job, I was deteriorating fast. After
having some frightening experiences, I
realized I needed help. I tried a faith-based
rehabilitation program for about 6 months,
but realized I needed to learn skills to help
me take control of my life and decided to
come to NYEP. I did not want to fall back
into my addiction.
At NYEP, I began to learn who I was,
what I liked, and what worked for me.
I learned how to budget and manage my
time. I got another job and wasn’t feeling like
I was just living to work. I’m not sure where
I see myself in the future, but I believe I will
have a better life because of NYEP.
I am one of those kids that was adopted but
then put back into the system. My adoptive
father molested me and when I reported it,
he denied it and I was punished. Ultimately,
I ended back in foster care close to my 18th
birthday. My social worker referred me to
NYEP. I thank God every day for it. I am close
to finishing my AA and just got hired at the
local hospital. I look forward to moving into
NYEP’s affordable housing complex.
Not only did I find adults I
could count on at NYEP, I
found my forever family.
I was born in Costa Rica and came to the U.S. when I was 14. After entering the foster
system, I was referred to NYEP by my social worker when I turned 18. I had lived in 44
homes by then. I remember leaving the last foster home feeling lonely, bored, and unloved.
I was still in high school and didn’t have enough money to live on my own, so NYEP seemed
like a good option. After moving in, I felt so much better. I really enjoyed the family-style
environment. I loved shopping, cooking, planning holiday events, and spending time with
roommates and staff.
With NYEP’s help, I became hopeful and focused.
Because of the woman I was able to become, I’m married to a person who treats me like a
queen, have 3 beautiful children, and feel there is great purpose in my life.
I was referred to NYEP on my 21st birthday.
I was severely abused as a kid and locked
in a bathroom from age 6-16. Because of
this, I had to finish all of my schooling in 5
years. When I turned 21, I was told I could
no longer live at my foster home. My social
worker told me about NYEP.
I was scared to go. I didn’t
know what would happen
to me there. But wow, it was
an amazing experience.
I was able to explore so many more things.
I’m always going to have problems because
of the abuse I endured, but I know I can
have true independence now. NYEP’s
support helped me reach my goal of having
my own place, holding a job, and being
normal like everyone around me.
The Nevada Youth Empowerment Project gives young women (18-24) in the Reno area a chance
to reroute their lives through a structured program that provides housing and basic needs, life
skills training, opportunities to practice new life skills, and the support and love of a family.