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In the News Resident Stories

“It’s hard at first, but it gets better”

By Jessica Parker

Last year, 16-year-old Amiee’s family lost their housing. When they no longer had family or friends to stay with, and could no longer afford a motel, Amiee, her mother, and her four siblings, came to Cross Roads House.

Amiee’s family has moved quite a bit in the last six years, including stays in two other homeless shelters in the area. At one point, Amiee and her older brother moved to Arizona for two weeks with their father, living in a camper that was miles from the nearest road. “Before I came to Cross Roads House, we moved around a lot,” Amiee says. “I was in and out of school. I haven’t stayed in one school for a whole year
since I was in the third grade. I’ve learned to get used to it. Moving around is more of a
struggle now though since I’m in high school and I have friends, and I worry about academics and ROTC.”

Now living at Cross Roads House in Portsmouth, Amiee’s family has found some stability. The family’s case manager worked with the Somersworth School District to ensure the children could continue to attend classes in the same school they were at before they became homeless.

Amiee’s day starts with a nearly one-hour ride to Somersworth High School, where she transfers buses to go to Dover High School for her morning ROTC class. In the afternoon, she takes a bus back to Somersworth to attend all her academic classes and her after-school activities, and then returns to Cross Roads House for the night.

Amiee enrolled in ROTC to give herself a leg up after high school. “Since I’m from a very low-income family, I’m not going to be able to afford college. I started thinking about joining the military so that once I’m out, I can go to college and I won’t have to worry about paying.”

In addition to a full load of high school courses, ROTC, and two after-school clubs, Amiee is also working part-time. While her schedule can be overwhelming, she says, “It’s not that bad once you get used to it. It’s kind of exhausting, but that’s life I guess.” She says that living so far away from her school also makes it difficult for her to socialize with her friends. “Living all the way in Portsmouth is hard because all my friends will be hanging out one night and I won’t be able to because I won’t have a ride home.”

In August, Amiee celebrated her 16th birthday. She was thrilled when a member of the Cross Roads House Volunteer Birthday Club gifted her with a Fender acoustic guitar. “When I was in Middle School, I had a real hard time with being bullied. We were required to take a guitar class, and when I started learning how to play, it was a safe place, like freedom to get away from all of it. Everybody says music helps with everything. Well, it really does. Not just listening to it but being able to make it and being able to play it makes you really happy.”

When it was time to go back to school, donors provided a new backpack, clothing, and shoes for all the children at Cross Roads House. Amiee was surprised that the donors who sponsored her picked just the right things. “I got my “My Hero Academia” stuff. I’m pretty sure nobody knows about that. It’s anime. And the donors actually took the time to find stuff I like. I felt a lot more confident because I had clothes that fit my personality.”

Amiee would like to thank all of the people who have helped her during her stay at the shelter. “The people that care so much about random people that they don’t know, that they’ve never met, it’s amazing the humanity they have.”

Amiee is grateful that Cross Roads House provides guidance and assistance for her mother. “It’s supportive here and it feels kind of homey. There’s hope that you’re going to get out and be able to have your own place. You helped get my mom on the right track towards being able to support us and have a house. The chances of succeeding here are a lot higher than in other places.”

Amiee is looking forward to graduating from high school next year, and working towards her career goal of becoming a detective. She shares some thoughts for other children who are experiencing homelessness. “It’s hard at first, but it gets better. Keep your head up. Most people around you won’t be as strong as you because of the situations you’ve been through. All those situations are just stories that build your character and make you who you are. If you take two steps forward and one step back, you’ll still get somewhere.”

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