Dre is the first one to admit that when he moved into his First Place for Youth apartment, he wasn’t prepared for all the intensive support the program provides.
“When you get into First Place, you have all these plans and it’s easy to get overwhelmed,” he laughs, shaking his head. ”I didn’t get very far in those first few months.”
Still, Dre met regularly with his First Place team and noticed that he was making progress in developing strong job-search and workplace skills. This revelation sparked his motivation and confidence, and he landed an internship at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. There, he discovered he enjoys work that provides him with opportunities to support people in need and that keeps him engaged with the LGBT community.
Once he identified a career path, Dre and his First Place team were able to get serious about setting short- and long-term goals.
He enrolled in a Mental Health Certification course at Pacific Clinics and, after earning his certificate, began work at Villa Esperanza Services in Pasadena. As a Skill Instructor there, he works one-on-one with clients who have intellectual or developmental disabilities.
While his job keeps him busy, Dre is still making time for volunteer work. He continues to be involved at the Los Angeles LGBT Center as a Youth Ambassador, as well as with Project Q, an organization providing free haircuts to homeless LGBT youth. He was recently an invited guest speaker on a panel at the Getty Center about Project Q’s work and the experiences of their clients.
Dre credits his accomplishments so far to “being surrounded by people who are supportive—my First Place team, people at work, and at the Center.” He hopes newer First Place participants understand the importance of accepting and engaging with the support of First Place, as they strive to turn plans and dreams into real-life progress.
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