• Youth Services System

A Heart for Helping Others

Aleeyah McKenzie was placed in Foster Care at birth. Her foster father died when she was 10, and her foster mother subsequently sent her to a boarding school in West Virginia. The school closed when she was 15, and she was sent to a group home/shelter in WV. At 17, she returned to her hometown in Pennsylvania to live with a family friend. When she became pregnant and decided to keep her child, however, she was sent away. She entered the Crittenton Home in Wheeling. While at Crittenton, she graduated from high school a semester early and entered community college. She now lives in an apartment in Wheeling with her 3-year-old son. They receive services and assistance from Youth Services System's Transitional Living Program. She is now 21, working at a nursing home and on track to graduate with her nursing degree in 2020. Below is her story in words.

"Hello. My name is Aleeyah McKenzie. I grew up in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, for most of my childhood. I was born in Philadelphia and from birth placed at a foster home. I often wondered why I couldn't have had parents like most of my friends at school. I have always been different, and most times I embraced it as a child. At a young age, I was abused physically, mentally, and emotionally. I am still very emotional to this day, but I am getting to stage where that is okay. I ended up in West Virginia because my last foster home disapproved my decision to have my son. I was seventeen at the time. That decision was the bravest decision I ever made. I was sent to West Virginia, where I didn't know anybody or where anything was. I was scared, but that bravery is the reason I am who I am today. My son is three now. He's my world and my reason to keep on going.

I've had a lot of lows in my life, and I look to God for answers and peace of mind. Life is not fair for anyone, but how long must we blame others? We only get one life, so why be miserable? I work every day to make sure I choose the right path and make the right decisions, so when I look back maybe when I'm seventy years old I know how far I've come and what I overcame regardless of my setbacks in life.

I currently work locally at a nursing rehabilitation center. I love my job, the environment, the patients and staff. I'm furthering my nursing education and currently in school. It's hard to balance student, employee and mom duties, but I'm making it happen! I'm eager to graduate in August 2020. I love the life that God has blessed me with and the support I get from YSS, Youth Opportunities Unlimited at YSS, and a lot more.