GO FOR A WALK.

THEN LISTEN.

Before our first meeting, TJ told me that my Life Launch mentors were very active. I like cheeseburgers, not running.

I had pink hair and tattoos. They didn’t.

I was broke and single. They weren’t.

There were just so many differences between us.

So on our first time together, we went for a hike.  I thought, “I am so embarrassed. I can barely breathe and they aren’t breaking a sweat.” Then I started to get to know them. And they were just so nice and so welcoming. They didn’t care that I had no bank account, that I couldn’t afford my own place, and have had troubles finding jobs. They just kept supporting me and praying for me and just being there and listening.

After awhile, they showed me some of the obstacles they have overcome. When you grow up with a past like mine, you think, “oh, they don’t know pain.” But they slowly started showing me pieces of their story and I could see heartache there. I could see how it changed them and how they had a choice and allowed the pain to make them better.

All I could think was that I wanted to be like them. I wanted the peace and the happiness like they had. And I slowly started to change.

I hated myself for a very long time. I had so many insecurities. Nobody wanted me. I was abused. All that changes your self-image. Just the other day, I was talking to an old friend and they asked me what was different and I said, “I love myself.”

When I first met [my Life Launch team], I was a partier. But they started talking about God more. I’m still on the fence about God. But I know that when things get hard, they will pray for me and I’ve started to pray too. It went from me hating God to me being open. Just that in itself, I have found so much peace.

I still struggle with depression and self harm thoughts. I did it so much when I was younger that I was addicted. Any time I felt any emotion, that’s what I turned to, I didn’t cry, didn’t exercise… I cut.

I am riddled with scars, but got to the point where I don’t need to cut any more. I’m not the same girl.

Just the other day I was feeling very overwhelmed because I’ve been without a job for a month and a half. I was feeling depressed. I thought about cutting but then I thought, “What’s a healthy way to deal with these thoughts?” And I went for a run.

My Life Launch team always built me up and I am not the person I was two years ago.

The difference is I know I’m not alone and I know how to deal with it.

Ali and team

In 2018

69

young adults were served in Life Launch small groups

175

volunteers served as Life Launch mentors

45

different churches were represented by Life Launch volunteers

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