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You Gave Her Hope

Updated on February 28, 2018

With an infectious laugh and a smile that lights up a room, you can’t help but be drawn to Kinzee, a former client of Youth Services for Oklahoma County. You might even get a hug immediately upon meeting her. After a few minutes in her company, you feel like old friends catching up. You can literally feel her joy.

At 25-years-old, Kinzee’s life is much different from her childhood and, according to her, that was always going to be the case. “It just wasn’t an option to live like my parents,” said Kinzee. “I just never want to be in that situation again. I don’t want to live like that.”

Poverty is just what Kinzee and her twin sister Tori knew. Growing up, they rarely had hot water or electricity. Their mom and stepdad moved them around from place to place because they couldn’t keep a home. Sometimes the family lived with friends or family - couch surfing together. At one point there were about 15 or 16 people living in a rundown home. The filth and mold kept everyone sick.

Kinzee shared that as a child, they just didn’t have the basic things a person needs. As a teenager, she had two shirts, a pair of pants and a pair of shoes. Kinzee says her family’s situation was a result of poor decisions by her parents, that kept them in a bad place. There were issues with illness and addiction in the home. There was usually some fighting and the occasional verbal or physical abuse.

Life became a little better once the twins entered high school. They became heavily involved in their church and their youth group. A youth minister learned about their situation and tried to get them help. A young couple took the twins in, but it didn’t work out.

Things really changed after the twins returned from a mission trip that was paid for by their church.

While they were away on their trip, their parents moved and put the twins’ things in storage, but they didn’t pay the storage bill. The girls lost everything and started couch surfing without their parents. It was just easier on the twins to be without them. Their school, Harding Charter Preparatory, stepped in to provide some help and they also connected the twins with Youth Services.

When the twins started working with their Youth Services’ advocate, the missing pieces came together, and life changed. Kinzee explained that there was so much hope, security and stability provided to them. It was something that had always been missing. Those are things you need as a teenager.

Added Kinzee, “I’ve never had anything else like it in my life. They made me feel human. They do provide food and necessities like that, but beyond – it’s comfort.”

One of Kinzee’s fondest memories of her time working with Youth Services was the prom event. She recalls the beautiful, stylish dresses and she was thrilled to find a dress that fit her. “There were people helping with makeup and hair and everyone had so much fun,” recalled Kinzee.

Youth Services also helped with senior dues and even taught her how to drive a car. Kinzee is thankful that Youth Services helped her stay on track and let her have dreams and goals. She knew whatever she wanted to do with her life, Youth Services wouldn’t judge, and they would help her plan her future.

Today, Kinzee is living on her own, working full time and attending college. Once she gets her associates degree, she will seek her bachelor’s in sociology. Her dream job is to one day work for Youth Services.

“Because of Youth Services, I graduated from high school and I’m majoring in sociology,” said Kinzee. “I wouldn’t have ever been able to do this without them. I want to provide the hope to teenagers like I was given. I want to give back and help others.”

When asked about her parents, Kinzee explained that who they are now is not who they were back then. While things are not perfect, her stepdad is employed, and they have a place to live. The family has had their ups and downs, but after a few years and many long talks, they are in a better place.

Youth Services was there for Kinzee and her sister and they know it wouldn’t be possible without the support of some amazing donors and volunteers.

Said Kinzee, “I would like to thank them for providing hope for me and believing in me without knowing me. I want them to know they are providing love and support to kids who aren’t getting any of those things from their family.”

She went on to say, “I don’t want to just thank them for providing financially or giving me a blanket or whatever. I want them to know what it truly meant and means to me and how kids do really view it, but they can’t always express it. I would thank them for showing me that despite my situation and the family I was given, there is hope for a future. Thank you for showing me that there are good people in this world.”

We agree, there are good people in the world, and Kinzee is one of them!