At first I spent all of my time in my room. I hated the place. There were strict rules to follow. It was hard following someone else’s rules when I was used to living on my own rules. But I did what I was told. I knew my mom didn’t need me to cause trouble — she was upset enough.

I was required to join the teen group — a group of kids between the ages of 13 and 18 living in the shelter — and go to meetings every Wednesday from 6 to 8 pm with the youth case worker, Miss Pat.

The first meeting I went to was an “anger” meeting. I listened as other kids talked about their feelings. One girl said she was ready to hurt herself because her mom was getting on her nerves and she had to watch her little sister all the time. Miss Pat told her she was glad she could express her feelings and let out her anger.

I noticed how much better the girl felt having the other teens’ and Miss Pat’s support. I wanted to tell Miss Pat how mad I was at the landlord, how much I missed my friends, and how much I hated living there, but I couldn’t do it. Just then Miss Pat reminded us that if we couldn’t talk about our feelings, we could write to her in the journals she had given us.

I wrote a long note to Miss Pat. The next day when I opened my journal I saw that she had written back. She told me to keep expressing my feelings and asked me to join in the

teen activities at the shelter and at my school so I could get to know the other kids. —