Shyla's story:

I want to start off by saying my life is a blessing. Don't get me wrong-I lost the world. I've been through hell and back since I was born, but that doesn't stop me from seeing the beauty in the world.

My name is Shyla I'm twenty-two years old. I grew up in Denver. I never had a "normal" childhood. My great-grandparents, for example, were who I considered to be my mom and dad, since my birth mom was working on her own issues, and I never know who my father was. My great-grandparents were the most amazing people in my life. For a while, I went back and forth from my birth mom and my grandparents' house. My birth mom passed away when I was six. I lived with my grandparents till the age of fourteen. My grandpa's death was hard for me and I was already an emotional wreck because I was fourteen. So I made a bad choice, one that I regret till this day. I decided to run far away. In my mind at the time, I didn't want to go home. So I went to the family crisis center, which was kind of like a group home.

Time passed by and my heart broke. I wanted to go back home, but the people at the crisis center said no, said that my grandma was too old, which was a lie. She wasn't. Not being able to go back home with my grandma led to the journey of foster care, which was hell, because I was away from my mama. I finally had the guts to do it-I ran away, went back hopping from couch-to-couch. I got tired of that, so I eventually turned myself in and went back to the Family Crisis Center.

There, I got back in touch with my family, most importantly my grandma-my "mama"-she inspired me to live on my own and go to school. My mama passed away when I was eighteen. She was the one to hold me together, so when she died I relapsed in a way and didn't want to go to school. I fell into this depression. I started stealing. Eventually, I lost everything-again. I still had my apartment, but I didn't know how to survive.

Struggling for food and clothes, and drinking a lot, I was lost. But something hit me. The Holy Spirit, I think. Something made me completely stop doing all the bad things I was doing. I started going to school. One step at a time, I picked everything up, piece by piece. Here I am, twenty-two, and not a day goes by that I don't reminisce on the past. With every struggle that I faced and that I am facing today, I'm not negative about life. I always have a smile on my face and it's rare when I don't I believe that everything happens for a reason.

Better days are always yet to come. I think back to when I was fourteen. Through all of the stuff that I was going through, I also had surgery on my back, because I had a tumor. I think back to how traumatic that was and how I could have lost my life seven years ago. I would have never been here to see life before it's up, and I would never have learned to live life if none of that would have happened. It definitely made me open my eyes and appreciate life and everyone who walks in it, because even though sometimes I may not like them, I always remind myself that the sky's isn't the limit because there's footprints on the moon. I still struggle, but it's just God letting me know that the future has something that's worth it for me. I have been living own for 5years now, still in the apartment were I started people are molested and shot often here, I'm scared most of the time but at least I have a place out of the cold. I was introduced by a friend to another that was living on the street and that made me open my eyes more. I just started to meet more friends in similar situation and found that they are the most humble people that know. They have showed me more resources on just how to survive. Don't get me wrong, I still struggle a lot but I always find a way to manage because I know bad days don't last forever.