NRS’ Board on Board Series

By Dr. Jeanette Kowalik, PhD, MPH, MCHES, board member since 2017

NRS is important to me because I experienced…

New NRS Board Member Jeanette Kowalik, PhDNRS’ Board on Board Series

By Dr. Jeanette Kowalik, PhD, MPH, MCHES, board member since 2017

NRS is important to me because I experienced housing instability as a teenager.  As a high school sophomore, I was grappling with a challenging home environment. My parents were divorced and my mother had relocated out of our hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I did not want to move to her new city (Kenosha) as I desired to complete high school vs. transfer.  So, I lived with my father for a short while but that proved to be difficult as he was much older and very strict in his ways.  I was somewhat of an independent teenager as I was very active in athletics, worked part time, helped my sister take care of my niece, and had a social life. My father agreed to allow me to move in with my older sister to assist with my niece. I realized this was a bad idea due to minimal supervision and access to alcohol. My grades suffered due to the lack of structure. There was one moment where a sex trafficker attempted to solicit me while I was at tennis practice- I was terrified! Eventually I discovered living with my sister was a bad idea. I panicked at the notion of where would I go- move out of town with my mom, move back in with my “old school” father, or with friends. Eventually, I was able to move in with my stepdad and finish high school.

I never forgot my fear of not having a healthy and stable housing situation.  When I learned about NRS and the services that we provide, I was elated and wanted to get involved. I wish I knew about NRS when I was in high school because I would have used the services.  I believe our ability to reach more youth though social media and word of mouth expands our reach. Additionally, our ability to address the needs of LGBTQ as well as culturally and linguistically diverse youth is an asset worth investing in.

 

Sign Up for Our Newsletter