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Learning to Trust: Daija’Ne’s Story

Author: The Buckeye Ranch

Daija’Ne’s childhood and teenage years were anything but easy. In and out of several different living situations and more than 10 schools all before she turned 18, she didn’t feel she could trust the adults in her life. She was in survival mode for more than a decade.  

“I never had an adult in my life that I could count on. I’ve always had my own back,” shares Daija’Ne. 

For the first fourteen years of her life, Daija’Ne experienced violence and neglect. She experienced several placements with family members, who often expressed she was ‘too much’. Eventually, she was relocated to a residential facility with no warning, then to a foster home, and then into a group home after experiencing a failed placement.  

“When your needs aren’t met and the adults in your life show you that you cannot trust or rely on them, it changes you. It makes you angry, and I didn’t know how to manage that,” reflects Daija’Ne. 

Finding Community at My Place

Thankfully, that all changed when she was referred to The Buckeye Ranch’s Transitional Age Youth independent living program, My Place, in November of 2022. There, with the help of the My Place staff, she found what she’d been searching for – a sense of safety and belonging.  

The Buckeye Ranch’s Transitional Age Youth programs, like My Place, are designed to help young adults who are ready to transition from care, group housing, or foster care, but are not ready to live completely on their own.  

My Place residents, who are typically young adults aged 16-21, reside in 1 of 15 fully furnished, one-bedroom apartments.  The goal of the My Place program is to provide youth with a stable place to learn advanced life skills and grow into the adults they were meant to be in their communities.  

Settling In

At first, Daija’Ne was hesitant about the move to My Place because she thought it would just be another situation where adults in her life did not support her. But, when she reflects today on her time at My Place, she believes it was one of the best decisions she has made. 

“Looking back, coming to My Place was the best thing I could’ve done,” Daija’Ne shares. “From them, I’ve learned that I’m not the only one that can have my back. I learned that I’m kind, resilient, honest, giving, and open, and I’ve learned how to nurture those qualities in myself.” 

While at My Place, Daija’Ne was able to take part in groups, where she learned how to cook, improve her credit score, budget, grocery shop, navigate social settings and improve her communication, manage her anger and reactions, celebrate graduating high school, study for phlebotomy classes, and receive guidance in completing FAFSA and applying for college.  

She was accepted to Cleveland State University, but ultimately chose to defer her acceptance because finding affordable housing and a support system back in Cleveland wasn’t doable for her at the time. 

“I think I knew my home was here in Columbus with the support system at My Place,” Daija’Ne explains. “I don’t have family members or parents to lean on and call when I’m in trouble or need advice. Instead, I call the My Place staff.” 

Daija’Ne believes that My Place helped her learn that she could trust adults for the first time. While it took time, the staff allowed her to be independent while still receiving the support she’d been needing. Having adults that modeled calmness in stressful situations allowed her to see how she wanted to grow. 

A Bright Future Ahead

In 2023, when Daija’Ne felt ready to leave My Place, she felt comfortable because she knew she’d always have the support from the staff. When she left, they helped her get connected to the Bridges program, which is a program for young adults ages 18-21 who have aged out of county custody and need additional resources that support employment and housing to transition into adulthood in the community.  

Today, with that support, she has her own apartment in Columbus – a space that is safe, sacred, and all her own … and, she has an incredibly bright future ahead. 

She is currently working at Sephora and working on saving up for a car and college, with aspirations to one day become an anesthesiologist. And with her support system today, she has no doubt she will become who she was destined to be.  

Interested in learning more about our My Place program? Visit our service page to learn more. You can also make a life-changing gift in support of our My Place program so that we can make sure that even more youth, like Daija’Ne, have a bright future.