By Kristen Turso
The Possibilities Project Case Manager
I don’t think I’ll ever forget the day we moved our first youth into the TPP apartments 3 years ago. Lyla, age 23 at the time, and Michelle age 20 at the time, loaded their belongings into their new home, so excited to start their new life.
Our former program manager, Lavinia, and myself, cooked a meal to celebrate with them on their first night in their new home. The apartment was beautifully decorated and completely tailored to the youth’s favorite designs and colors. Students from VCU’s Interior Design program volunteered to help us turn these apartments into homes, and none of us could believe the end results.
I’ll never forget when Lyla looked at me and said “Is this real? Is this a trick? We get to live here?” Thanks to our incredible donors, the apartments were full of furniture, plants, art, and fully functional kitchen. It had that cozy feeling that only comes with “home.”
Lavinia and I shared a meal and a lot of laughs with the youth that night, talking about the future, and how excited we were to have them in our program. From there we began filling the rest of our apartments, and helping these incredible young people start their journey to independence.
I’ll never forget when Lyla looked at me and said “Is this real? Is this a trick? We get to live here?”
In the last 3 years we’ve had a lot of hard times but just as many triumphs. We’ve seen tears of sadness, and tears of joy. I’ve gotten the rare and wonderful privilege of seeing these young men and women become students, CNAs, medical technicians, security officers, peer mentors, advocates, public speakers, model employees at fortune 500 companies, volunteers who care about giving back to their community, and so much more. I am in awe every day at their strength, resiliency, and their relentless fight for a better life. I have gotten to see the way they support one another and how much they want to make the foster care system better for those who come after them.
The most important thing I’ve witnessed in my 3 years with The Possibilities Project though, is healing. If we can’t heal from our trauma, we can’t make a clear pathway for our futures. Everyone deserves a chance to heal and everyone deserves a fair and equal shot at a happy life. While we can’t change what has already happened in these young peoples’ lives, we can at least give them their chance.
“I am in awe every day at their strength, resiliency, and their relentless fight for a better life.”
The transformations we have seen over these 3 years are truly astounding. I think about the two young women I shared that first TPP meal with 3 years ago and I smile. I smile thinking about Lyla, who was able to build her life and support network in Richmond and move into her own housing. I choke up thinking about Michelle who will be walking across a stage this December to receive the Bachelor’s Degree she has worked tirelessly for for so many years. I think about how much good can happen, and how many lives can change forever, when a community comes together to support a common purpose.
I humbly think about all of this as I say, “Happy Birthday TPP, I can’t wait to see what the years ahead have in store for us.”