Chloe is a bright, cheery teenager with a smile that lights up the room. She has dreams of being a nurse and talks about going to college next year. She wants give her and her family a chance at a better life. Chloe is one of many teenagers who come to Carpenter’s experiencing homelessness. Her mother brought her and her four sisters to Carpenter’s Shelter in June in the hopes of providing them with a more stable living environment, and the chance to get back on her feet.

A first generation American, Chloe was born in Maryland and has lived in the DMV area most of her life. The effects of homelessness have caused her and her family to move more than ten times, all before her senior year of high school. She says the constant moving was a source of stress for her, and made it difficult for her to stay caught up in school and make friends. Many homeless teenagers are more susceptible to depression, the development of a learning disorder, and severe anxiety as opposed to that of their peers.

Being the oldest of five kids, the stress Chloe feels is insurmountable. Not only has she recently taken on a part-time job to further help provide for her family, but while her mother is at work she is also responsible for her four sisters. With her “big sister” mentality, Chloe says that she feels the pressure and obligation of being a good role model for her sisters and to set a good example. It’s hard to imagine the weight that is on Chloe’s shoulders. She pushes herself each day, not only to keep her family together, but to one day provide a life for her sisters that she was not afforded.

Chloe, who dreams of becoming a pediatric nurse, says she was inspired by her younger sisters and her passion for helping children. “After I graduate, I’m going to take some classes at Northern Virginia Community College, and then transfer to a university to finish my degree.” She says that her friends and family are her motivation, citing her Uncle as a role model. “He helps push me and makes me better,” says Chloe. With the help of her family’s case manager, Chloe is getting access to tutoring in order to help her keep up in school. She is also involved in a special nursing program which she says helps teach her terminology, basic procedures, and prepares her for nursing school.

“In five or ten years, I hope to be working at a hospital and own my own house,” says Chloe. She realizes that breaking the cycle of homelessness is not an easy feat but with the help of her family, friends, and her support system at Carpenter’s, Chloe can see the light at the end of tunnel.