My Story: Carrying on My Grandmother’s Legacy

By Shirley Mendez, Treehouse Alumni

Growing up, mentors played a significant role in helping me get to where I am now. My grandmother was one of my first mentors, a beacon of inspiration and care. She was a nurse who deeply touched the lives of those around her, including mine. When she passed away, I was overwhelmed by grief; it still brings up a lot of emotions for me today. It was a dark stage in my life.

I first started working with Treehouse at the age of 16. Little did I know then that this organization would play a pivotal role in shaping my future. Treehouse was there for me. I knew I wanted to pursue higher education, but I had no idea where to start. My Education Specialist helped me figure that out, and we sat down together and applied for community college.

After high school, the coaching I received through the Launch Success program extended beyond academics. Juggling school and a full-time job was challenging, so we focused on life skills like ­finding housing and connecting to available resources in the community.

One example of this was last year. I was taking a class that I needed to pay for out of my own pocket, and even though I was working full-time and had a solid budget, money was tight. My Launch Success Coach worked with me to find ways to pay for things like groceries, which freed up ­some money for my tuition. It was a huge relief!

It took me six years to graduate from college, but I did it! I felt behind, but it was what worked for me. My goal to graduate college took time, it took energy and it took money. But I knew I needed to push through and stick with it.

Today, I am proud to share that I have just started my ­first job as a social worker. Through my work, I am carrying forward my grandmother’s legacy, making her proud.

Treehouse’s impact goes far beyond providing resources. My life has changed. I am forever grateful for the opportunities and assistance I have received.

To other youth working with Treehouse, stick with it. The long-term relationships and guidance they will ­find at Treehouse are so important. Having consistent community support means so much when we are struggling.

As someone who has personally experienced the profound difference Treehouse can make, I ask you to consider making a donation. Every gift, no matter the size, can provide the tools and support youth in care need as we pursue our goals and become adults.

Subscribe to Our Blog

About the Author

Shirley is a Treehouse alumni and recent graduate of the University of Washington School of Social Work. She entered foster care at 16 years old and was connected to Treehouse’s Graduation Success program, which supported her with her post-secondary plans.

Leave a Comment