I was humbled to speak to a young woman whose life experiences are both uniquely hers and yet also a reflection of youths in transition all around the world. Model Behaviors, as you may know, collaborates every year with City House, who shelter at-risk children and young adults, build up their power to succeed in life, and advocate their education and care. Our annual Halloween event, Friscovania, benefits City House and the youths under their roof. We were previously privileged to interview Chey Reynolds of City House, but now, we’ve been given the pleasure to hear from a young woman who has gone through the program herself and has emerged with her future in her hands. City House introduced me to Lauren Fellows, one of the recent and dearest graduates of their Transitional Living Program.
Lauren is a gem whose shine is evident in the gentle eagerness of her voice. Quiet and modest, she is no less intense. We spoke over the phone, and even though I could not see her, her perseverance in life sounded clearly through easy laughter, fond remembrances, and thoughtful silences. Please welcome our October Woman of the Month, Lauren Fellows.
MB: Cherish Holm, one of the case managers at City House, says you’re one of City House’s recent Transitional Living Program graduates. Congratulations!
LF: Thank you.
MB: Tell me a little about where you are now and what you do.
LF: I am basically working. I work for a Dairy Queen. I’m in training to be a manager now. I’ve been there for almost a year. It will be a year in October.
MB: Well done on moving up to that manager role. Chey Reynolds, the developmental director at City House, let me know that you were also working towards your Nursing Assistant Certification.
LF: I was. I haven’t really been focused on it, as I should.
MB: No, no, that’s fine. It’s a lot of work, too, and Chey also told me you were a fashionista. There’s so much in fashion, like makeup or hair, modeling, and clothing. Is there one particular part that really interests you?
LF: I just love fashion. I’ve always loved fashion. I just like researching it. I’m trying to be more of a fashion stylist. I wanna do hair, makeup, and wardrobe—all of that, in one. I love makeup. It releases a lot of stress for me, so when I’m bored and I don’t have anything to do, I just look in the mirror and do my makeup.
MB: What your life was like before City House?
LF: Basically, I was just trying to figure out my life and figure out what I’m gonna do, so I ended up applying to Job Corps. I started training to be a CNA (certified nursing assistant). Before Job Corps, I was basically almost homeless and was just trying to find work and could never find work. So I ended up going to Job Corps.
Once I left Job Corps, I was good. I found a job and started working, and that’s how I found City House. A month before I was supposed to leave Job Corps, I didn’t have anywhere to go. One of the staff members I was very close to looked up TLP programs with me, and the first one that popped up was City House. So we went on the website and looked at the application, and I got their number. The next morning, I called them, and I did my application. I did one online, and I printed out another, in case they lost it or couldn’t find it. I called them, and they set me up with an interview the next week. I had two interviews with them, and they were like, “All right, you can move in!” On April 15th, I moved into the house, which was the same day I graduated from Job Corps.
MB: That’s very nice! That was a close call, too.
LF: Yeah. That was my last resort. I didn’t have anywhere to go. Job Corps was trying to get rid of me, and they were like, “You need to find somewhere to go.” We get paid after we leave Job Corps, so I was just going to take what I was given and go get a hotel room, and they were like, “No, you can’t do that!” So I ended up, you know, moving into City House.
MB: When you were at City House, did you make any lasting relationships, connections, or friends?
LF: I don’t know about lasting relationships, because I don’t really talk to the people. The two people that I was very close with while I was there—I don’t really talk to them that much. We’re just in different areas of our lives. I really just don’t talk much to anybody. I’m very much to myself, just focused on me, so I don’t really have time to entertain anyone. But it was a great learning experience.
MB: Has there been anyone else outside of City House? Anyone in your life who’s been a constant companion?
LF: I’ve really been by myself. I have a few friends. I have a boyfriend, but me and him—I have work a lot, and he works a lot. I mean, we try to talk as much as we can, but we don’t get to talk as much as we probably would want to.
MB: He’s there for you, at least, right?
Lauren found some semblance of stability in City House, but it was not always so easy. Find out more about how life had been for her, how alone she had felt, and how she’s risen above it all in Part II of our interview next week.