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Full Circle: Teryssa’s Story

When Teryssa was 14, she came to the YSS Francis Lauer youth shelter in Mason City seeking help. Five years later, she works for the same shelter as a YSS employee.

“I wouldn’t have survived to age 15 without YSS,” Teryssa says. “Having that support and knowing someone cares is what got me through everything.”

As a youth, Teryssa faced many obstacles. After she and her little sister were placed in foster care, Teryssa ended up at the YSS shelter. The staff provided much-needed safety and solace during that time.

“One staff member taught me how to water paint. She made a painting of me and my little sister with a rainbow, which symbolized the dark days behind us and the good days in front,” Teryssa says. “I still have that painting.”

At age 18, Teryssa aged out of the system and once again found comfort in YSS—this time through the Aftercare Program, which provides support for former foster care youth.

It was a YSS advocate who encouraged Teryssa to apply for an Emergency Services Specialist position at the shelter. Teryssa always wanted to help people and knew this was a perfect opportunity to impact lives.

In March, she was offered the position. Today, she helps youth at the shelter in their daily tasks, from getting them ready for school to simply being someone to talk to.

“Working for YSS has opened my eyes to see that anyone can go through difficult situations,” Teryssa explains. “It is a beautiful thing to see the children work through those issues and blossom.”

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