Hello PSY community!
Many of you may remember Ma'liyah as the co-host of the Host Homes Panel at the 2017 National Symposium on Solutions to End Youth Homelessness. If you were there, you know that the sentiment "Ma'liyah is love" resonates. If you missed her or want to learn more about this fierce rockstar who will be joining us on the 11/29/17 Ask A Rockstar webinar, please "meet" Ma'liyah below, where she describes her journey and experience in her own words.
“ I am a Rockstar! In Life, there's way too many barriers. It's not about knocking them down, it's about overcoming the trauma you experienced while knocking them down.
- Ma’liyah D.
Ma’liyah first learned about the Center for Youth in Rochester, NY when she was 14 years old. She was a junior in high school, on course to graduate early. The third oldest of 11 siblings, some of them she's raised herself. She struggled with Gender Identity Disorder.
Ma'liyah is a victim of Domestic Violence. One evening, Ma'liyah and her mother were discussing worldwide LGBTQA related issues, her mother tricked her into coming out to her as gay by falsely stating she's attracted to the same sex. From that day on, Ma'liyah experienced physical, mental, emotional, and verbal abuse by her mother and her mother's partner. When she sought help, no one took her seriously or ever listened. Ma'liyah became afraid. That same year she lost her father to diabetes. Ma'liyah developed a deep depression and anxiety. Her mother put her on the PINS program. She had to see a probation officer weekly. One who told her she didn't have time to be transgender because she's homeless.
Ma’liyah’s mother kicked her out of the family home numerous times because she wouldn't accept her for who she is. She's slept on park benches, couch/floor surfed, stayed where she's felt unwelcome just to have a roof over her head. Everywhere she went, she was shunned, overlooked, treated as unequal, and turned away even after helping. Ma’liyah starved for a year's length of time. She survived on water and snacks provided by organizations. She dropped out of high school to focus on her living situation.
With guidance from the school counselor, Ma'liyah shared her story with a Triage counselor at the Center for Youth. Since that day, Ma'liyah’s life has changed for the betterment of her future. She resided in their youth shelter and host homes, provided with her own room. They've managed to provide Ma'liyah with her own apartment in their TLP Program. Workforce navigators worked closely with her to obtain her HSE Diploma. Ma'liyah graduated in 2016. The Center for Youth had given her a paid peer internship working within the organization as a Peer Counselor. Ma'liyah is now employed there as a Q-Nite (Queer Night) Advisor and Outreach peer. She also obtains a position in retail.
Ma'liyah dreams to continue advocating for Young People's voices to be heard, understood, and their needs to be met. She thrives in continuing to help other young individuals succeed and achieve as she has. She is beautiful, smart, very wise, caring, passionate, goal oriented, but most of all she is resilient. Ma'liyah is love.