Because of a community that cares,
I’m no longer living on the streets.I would like to share parts of my life that have cause anxiety, anguish, and disappointment. However, through honesty, integrity, and perseverance I have prevailed.

Written by Rasheem Lashone Waters

RasheemW_Norina_Leyde_03I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, where my two brothers and I were adopted as infants by Augusta Waters, a woman we consider to be our mother. I never knew who our biological parents were, but this woman Augusta Waters loved us dearly, took us in, and raised us as if we were her own.

Growing up, I wasn’t the best of children. I fought, lied, and stole from those around me without even caring how they felt. When my mother became terminally ill, my brothers and I were taken out of poverty by our aunt and uncle who moved us to Las Vegas. I was 12 years old. The drama increased from there; I was introduced to a lot of different cultures and customs. I started using drugs while living in Chicago, but after the move, I began using more heavily.

My uncle kicked me out of my home multiple times because of my drug abuse. Sometimes I had my own apartment and independence, but I ended up losing the apartments and sleeping on the streets. Due to poor choices, I ended up in jail for nine months. After being released, I was sleeping on the street and eating pizza out of the trash behind one of the casinos because I was so hungry. I wore trash bags on my body, and I was filthy.

After being released from police custody, I wanted change. I knew I wasn’t as productive as I could be, and I was tired of sleeping on the streets. I found out about Help of Southern Nevada’s Shannon West Homeless Youth Center by chance. Eddie Jackson referred me to Catholic Charities, but little did I know I would find the youth center. The program gave me a safe place to lay my head, helped me find a job, manage my money, and even fed me at no cost. All in all, if it weren’t for HELP of Southern Nevada, I wouldn’t be the man I am today.