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From Homelessness to Hope: A Teen's Journey through Project Hawai’i, Inc.

Life for young people facing homelessness is often a tumultuous path filled with uncertainty and hardship. For many, dreams and aspirations seem out of reach,

overshadowed by the daily struggle for survival. However, there are stories of remarkable transformation, where perseverance and the right support can lead to incredible achievements. This is the story of Mia, a resilient teenager who, through the support of Project Hawai’i, Inc., overcame the odds and paved a path to a promising future.

Early Life: A Struggle for Stability

Mia's early years were marked by instability. Growing up in a family grappling with homelessness, she moved from one temporary beach park to another, living in a van, or along the waters edge, never experiencing the stability that most of her peers took for granted. She was the oldest of 4 siblings and often had to play the mothering role. She was only 2 years old when she became homeless and knew nothing else throughout her life.

Discovering Project Hawai’i, Inc.

At the age of 3, Mia's life took a turn when she was introduced to Project Hawai’i, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting homeless children and their families in Hawai’i. The organization offers a variety of programs aimed at improving the lives of homeless youth, including their summer educational programs, reading and tutoring programs and the award winning teen mentoring program, which all became a pivotal part of Mia's journey. As she grew through the program, she was introduced to a wide array of workshops which included arts, theater, dance, music, science, and so much more. She had the opportunity to earn a scholarship for ballet in her younger years which led to her becoming a cheerleader in school while in middle school. This led to even more achievements in school.

The Mentoring Program: A Beacon of Hope

The teen mentoring program at Project Hawai’i, Inc. is designed to provide guidance, support, and resources to homeless teens, helping them navigate the challenges of adolescence and build a foundation for a brighter future. For Mia, this program became a lifeline. She was paired with a mentor who not only provided academic support but also offered emotional encouragement and practical advice.

Through the program, Mia received mentoring that helped her become a leader in school, workshops that taught her essential life skills, and create arts and writing that helped her cope with the emotional toll of her circumstances. The program also introduced her to a community of peers who were facing similar challenges, providing her with a sense of belonging and mutual support. During these residency programs, Mia became a role model and even taught the girls hula for a graduation celebration. Inspiring as well as confidence building.

Academic Achievement: Rising Above the Challenges

With the support of her mentor and the resources provided by Project Hawai’i, Inc., Mia's academic performance began to improve. She developed a study routine, learned effective time management skills, and started to believe in her own potential. Her hard work paid off, and by her senior year, Mia was excelling in her classes.

Graduating high school with honors was a monumental achievement for Mia, one that not only represented her academic success but also her resilience and determination to overcome the obstacles in her path. She became the first in her family’s generation to graduate high school, setting a powerful example for her younger siblings and peers.

A New Chapter: Acceptance to University

Mia's journey did not stop at high school graduation. While in the mentoring program she had discovered she wanted to become a nurse to be able to help those who are less fortunate like her and had no access to the care she wish she had. Yes there were doctor visits but didn't seem anyone understood the challenges facing homelessness . Her dedication and academic achievements earned her acceptance to a prestigious university on the mainland, where she will study nursing.

This acceptance marks the beginning of a new chapter in Mia's life. It is a testament to her strength, the power of supportive programs like those offered by Project Hawai’i, Inc., and the belief that with the right support, even the most daunting obstacles can be overcome.

Reflecting on the Journey

Mia’s story is a powerful reminder of the impact that targeted support and mentorship can have on young people facing homelessness. Project Hawai’i, Inc. provided Mia with the tools, resources, and encouragement she needed to break the cycle of homelessness and pursue her dreams. Her success is a beacon of hope for other teens in similar situations, demonstrating that with perseverance and support, anything is possible. Mia's parents have expressed that the mentorship and personal guidance of our very own director and co-founder, Magin Patrick, is the reason Mia knew she could accomplish anything. Magin often shares her stories of being homeless, not being able to graduate high school and having to struggle as a single teen mom. She shares her upbrining with the teens and let them know she understands what is like, and she herself is the light for them to follow. Yes, Magin has her degrees, but she didn't come by them easily, especially without the foundation of a high school education to jumpstart her journey. This program is a testament that everyone can succeed, even without proper upbringings.

As Mia prepares to embark on her college journey, she carries with her the lessons learned and the confidence gained through her experiences. She is determined to use her education to give back to the community and support others who are facing challenges similar to those she has overcome. Mia's story is not just one of personal triumph but also a testament to the transformative power of compassion, mentorship, and the unwavering belief in the potential of every young person.

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