Whitney Blount Smith was only 15 when she was legally emancipated. That big moment was just one step on a long path to independence.
Whitney’s mother was an addict, and she ran away multiple times in her early teens because it wasn’t safe to stay at home. During one of those periods, she found her way to The Bridge. Counseling helped her return home, but the stability didn’t last.
Even after being emancipated, Smith felt a responsibility to her younger brother, who was ten years old at the time. “I stayed with my mom for about a year after that, because I wanted to be there for him,” she said.
Finally, she realized she had to move out in order to move forward in her own life. That’s when she found her way to Transitions.
“The Bridge was a haven for my safety and growth when I was in high school,” she said.
Whitney spent parts of her junior and senior year living at The Bridge, where she received counseling for trauma and depression. In Transitions, she found a safe place where she could learn how to take care of herself and work toward her goals. She still remembers the day she received her acceptance letter to Augsburg College.
“Everyone was freaking out with me,” she said. “It was really beautiful, it felt like I had been accepted into a family outside of my blood.”
She graduated with a double major in Creative Writing and Sociology, and a minor in Social Welfare. She started working part time at Penumbra Theatre after graduating, and has worked herself up in the past 2.5 years to Executive Assistant.
“It’s taken a lot to get here. I have a lot of lumps and the scars to show for it,” Whitney said. “But looking at where I am, I’m proud of what I’ve overcome.”
We’re proud of Whitney, too. To help young people like Whitney reach their full potential, donate today.