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Helping kids heal and prosper — for those who need safety and shelter, there’s no place like Mercy Home.

As Mercy Home For Boys & Girls prepares for this year’s graduates, a young woman who once lived there talks about the impact the organization had on her life. She’s now chosen a career helping others in honor of the aid she received.

Everybody has a different definition of home. On her own, Yazmin worked two jobs to pay her rent — all while trying to juggle high school. 

“Most of the time, I would be out of the house by 6 a.m. and come back by 10 or 11 p.m.,” she said.

But at just 17, she ended up in an emergency shelter. 

On her own, Yazmin worked two jobs to pay her rent — all while trying to juggle high school. 

“It was lonely but it was ‘figure things out and am I going to go to college? Start working? Find a place,'” said Yazmin. “It was hectic and emotional.”

Thankfully, an advocate mentioned Mercy Home, an organization devoted to providing at-risk youth shelter and guidance. 

“I told her, I opened up to her, ‘I don’t have a place to stay, I don’t think I’m going to go to college, that’s not like in my near future goals’ and she talked about all the options like going to Mercy,” said Yazmin.

In a safe and stable environment, Yazmin soared. 

“So comfortable,” she said. “It was like I finally had emotional support and somebody to talk to. It wasn’t being lonely no more and also somebody who encouraged me to do even more with my life.”

After high school, she was accepted to an applied science program at Malcolm X College. Now the 21-year-old is an x-ray technologist at Sinai Health on the city’s West Side. 

“In me, I knew I wanted to give back to people since when I was here at Mercy, they were helping me, too. I wanted to help others and my way of helping others is also giving back to my community,” said Yazmin.

Mercy Home for Boys & Girls

Each day at Sinai, Yazmin says she channels the compassion she received at Mercy Home, caring for others in crisis. 

“Especially when we work in the emergency department, we got patients going through a traumatic event and it’s like, they are in emotional stress and not fully there. So a lot of times, we have to work with them, understand them and put ourselves in their shoes, too,” she said.

But she hasn’t forgotten her past struggles.

“I see the resilience I had and it motivates me all the time, like if I have a problem or something going on at school,” she said. “Sometimes I look back and say ‘no, I actually did it before, because I continue to do it, because I know I can do it.'”

Yazmin is now working on her bachelor’s degree and plans to continue her career in healthcare.

There are many more students just like Yazmin whose lives were transformed and healed at Mercy home – and they’ll be honored at the organization’s annual graduate celebration on Tuesday.

Click here to learn more about Mercy Home.