For Kendra, life’s peaks and valleys have been particularly dramatic. Kendra had a relatively stable childhood until she was 14, when her birth parents put Kendra and her four siblings in foster care. Kendra stayed at a foster home for a brief period before her older brother took custody of his younger siblings.
In spite of her family struggles, Kendra was wildly successful in high school, serving as a peer counselor and graduating as valedictorian of her class. She was accepted to her top three college choices, and enrolled at San Jose State. Once on campus, Kendra says, she “mentally checked out and I knew I wasn’t going to finish college.”
A marriage proposal offered a way out, and Kendra married and moved to Sacramento with her new husband. Unfortunately, the honeymoon soon ended when she was turned out of her new home by her mother in law. At the very end of her rope, Kendra gathered up her dignity and her belongings and moved back to Oakland.
The combined efforts of Covenant House and Beyond Emancipation, said Kendra, have been her saving grace. Covenant House provided her shelter while she began looking for work; she soon began working at two jobs. B:E provided case management and other supports. Kendra soon found that even small supports, like transportation passes, were invaluable footholds in her climb toward renewed dignity and independence.
With encouragement from her case manager, Kendra is back in school, enrolled at Laney College with ambitions to become an occupational therapist. Her choice to go into a helping profession reflects both her optimism and her ability to overcome her past. Kendra noted, “I love to see people happy and succeeding. It’s empowering to see people overcome struggles.”