Catalyst of Change:
Growing up on the mean streets of Chicago, simply making it through the day alive and in one piece was a victory for young Lily. Thankfully, she found Boys Town, which gave her the tools and support she needed to succeed. And today, Lily is a full-time nurse who has her whole life in front of her, unlike many of her childhood friends who are now behind bars or dead.
See how Lily made the transformation from gang involvement to college graduate thanks to the support of people just like you.
Watch Lily's Story
I could have been raped or I could have been kidnapped. I could have been - god, I don't know but I could have been killed for half of the stuff that I've done, I'm surprised that I'm still alive. I grew up in Chicago until I was 13. I basically didn't go to school. I dropped out my freshman year because of gang violence.
Probably throughout my whole life, I've seen maybe three of my friends get killed and probably about 10 of them are dead now. When I was a little kid, I was probably around eight years old, my parents would let us play outside but only in the back yard. Well that day we happened to go to the front and there was gang members chasing other gang members and they started throwing bricks and then they started shooting and then all my neighbors went inside and I stood outside. I was just under a car so I was still really young. That was, that was scary.
It's like I was living in my own nightmare. It's hard to get out of it. Even your family sometimes they don't even believe in you. If somebody else believes in you it's not enough because your parents don't believe in you. It wasn't until I got to Boys Town when I actually felt like I was safe. I was in a different environment. You didn't see gang bangers in the corner. You didn't see little kids getting shot at or even seeing your friends in front of you get shot at and killed.
My family in Boys Town was so supportive. I am very grateful for them. I mean, they've literally been like mom and dad to me and I appreciate them so much. I have a degree in Human Service Counseling and a minor in Spanish. I am a Certified Nursing Assistant and a Medication Aid. And you know, Boys Town provided me with all of those opportunities. They are the reason that I'm here today. I actually finished college. I actually did something with my life. Boys Town gave me opportunity. They gave me hope. They gave me the help that I needed to be where I'm at today and I've very thankful for Boys Town.