A formerly homeless young woman is getting a fresh start. She now has her own apartment and car, and it’s all thanks to her own hard work. Next, she wants to help others.
After years of sleeping on others’ couches, 19-year-old Merci now has a bed to call her own. This is an emotional day for her, as she spent much of her life homeless.
“It’s still not hitting me yet,” Merci said. “I’m sure once it’s all decorated and the first night when I’m actually sleeping, it’ll be like, ‘Wow, this is mine.’ It’s exciting.”
She’ll have plenty of materials to decorate with, too. GL homes donated $2,000 to help Merci furnish her new North Naples apartment with plenty of items from St. Matthew’s House. A coffee maker, headboard and bar stools in the new home all belong to her.
“So it’s exciting to finally own something that’s mine. You know? Not sharing a room,” Merci said.
For the past two years, Merci shared a room with other teenagers at Youth Haven’s homeless shelter.
“So very rarely do you see a young person that driven, but Merci came to us with that drive inside of her,” said LaQuentin Cotton, the associate director of youth home operations at Youth Haven.
Cotton has worked with Merci since she was a child.
“To see it come full circle and be able to be here to be a part of that transition from homelessness to thriving, it was important for me to be able to see the end result,” Cotton said.
This is just the beginning for Merci. She’s studying early childhood education and has big plans for her future. She also has some advice for everyone else.
“When you have opportunity, always take it,” she said. “Just take that leap of faith because you just never know and just put your trust in God. Don’t take anything for granted.”
Merci is most excited to watch Netflix on her new TV. She’s also excited to show off her new apartment to her family.