2016 Tenant of the Year: Shatiera Freeman
Although only 24, Shatiera Freeman has already survived a great deal, including abandonment, depression, exploitation and heartbreaking loss. But through her resiliency, intelligence, resourcefulness and humor, she has grown into a leader among her peers and a role model for young people, especially those coming from the foster care system.
Shatiera was placed into foster care as an infant and was adopted at age 4. She formed a wonderful relationship with her adoptive mother and they remained close until her mother passed away when Shatiera was 15. That is when things became rough. She was left battling depression and placed back into foster care. Over the course of the next eight years, she moved over sixteen times, bouncing among placements, a stint in college in Virginia and finally back to New York.
Back in New York, Shatiera reconnected with The Door, where she had originally sought services at their Runaway and Homeless Youth Program when she was 15. That connection has made all the difference: she has taken advantage of nearly every youth development service offered. She has become deeply involved in the organization’s Peers Against Unsafe Sex (PAUS) program, training and being hired as a Peer Educator at the Adolescent Health Center. There, she is advancing her skills as an advocate and using her talents as an artist as she creates a wide array of marketing materials to better reach the middle and high schoolers and community groups she works with, stating, “Even in health you need pamphlets, cartoons, all sorts of ways to make people feel comfortable.”
The Door also supported Shatiera through her application and acceptance into Breaking Grounds’ The Lee residence fifteen months ago, where she has truly come into her own, becoming a role model to the other young tenants who have transitioned out of foster care. Shatiera says The Lee is the first place where she feels people truly and honestly are on her side, crediting staff for inspiring her to be her best self. When asked how she wants people to remember her, she hopes they’ll say, “Shatiera had it hard, but always made it the best possible way through that she could. She didn’t always know how, but sheesh, she did it! Feels good to know that about myself.”
The Network is proud to honor Shatiera’s resilience and looks forward to her future accomplishments as this year’s Outstanding Tenant of the Year.