The parting words of staff at Carinity Orana, in Bald Hills, have helped a homeless teenager turn her life around.
A hand-written letter was given to Dylia (name changed for privacy reasons) when she moved out of the homeless shelter seven years ago.
It said: “We know that you will continue to move forward and we know that you have the determination to make things happen for yourself.”
Dylia kept the letter and its words of encouragement have inspired her to achieve some of her life goals.
Now 23, she has graduated from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) with a dual degree in Social Work and Justice – during National Homelessness Week.
Dylia lived at Carinity Orana for four months when she was 16, after being referred by another homelessness service.
She was buoyed by the “very positive environment” at the youth home in Bald Hills.
“All the workers were supportive, and I liked the fact that they actually worked with us to achieve something,” Dylia said.
“They were never judgemental, and I never felt I had been shamed about my life choices.
“I was trying to figure myself out. I was 16. I had only recently run away from home. They helped me to open up and figure out what I want to do with my life.”
Carinity Orana, which is celebrating 40 years supporting homeless youth and those at risk of becoming homeless, offers maximum stays of six months to people aged from 16 to 21 years.
Youth workers support residents to access counselling, develop new social networks, and secure education, training, employment and more permanent accommodation.
With the support of Carinity Orana, Dylia completed a certificate course in business studies which led to further study and eventually her enrolment at university. She also moved into long-term accommodation at Strathpine.
“If you can overcome homelessness, you’ve already done something incredibly difficult,” Dylia explained.
“If you want to take up a passion or become a doctor, you’re no less talented than anyone else. You are no less deserving of working towards a dream or goal than anyone else.”