There are 800 kids graduating from Waco high schools this weekend, including more than a dozen students who are homeless.
One 19-year-old student, who didn't want to reveal her identity, credits her accomplishment to a local organization that's helped her along the path to graduation.
"I was worried that I wouldn't have enough credits," she said. "I didn't know what I was going to do until I came here."
After years of struggling with a toxic home environment, she packed her bags and walked out the front door for good.
She first visited The Cove in November. It's an after-school nurturing center for youth who are experiencing homelessness.
"I've had a broken home for like my whole life, it's never been easy for me," she said. "My grandmother's not even coming to my graduation. Some of my other family members aren't coming to my graduation. My family doesn't support me like a normal family should."
As a junior in high school, she was balancing classes while trying to make it on her own before learning about The Cove. She said it gave her the stability she needed after her world was turned upside down.
"If you come from a broken family and they give you that family, it's really beneficial because it helped me a lot," she said.
Amy Jimenez, a board member for The Cove, said their space serves as a safe haven for students.
"Students can come here and have a hot meal, a family style meal every night," Jimenez said. "We have washers and dryers for students to do their laundry. There are also showers for students who don't have access to showers in the evening."
They also bring in tutors to help kids with their school work and provide them with necessary hygiene products. But what seems to impact the students the most, is the supportive atmosphere.
"Not very many people would just sit there and ask you what's wrong tell me what's wrong," she said. "It's because they care and that's the thing they need is someone who cares and they have a lot of people that care."
"I love working with high school students because they have so much within them and so much potential," Jimenez said. "Getting to see them interact in an environment that supports that is really humbling."
Staff and volunteers serve around 75 students within Waco ISD each year and this year 15 of them will walk across the stage.
"Everyone treats you like your family," she said. "Everyone tells you that you can go somewhere and they believe in you."
A family that will be cheering her on from the stands at graduation on Saturday.
"I came here and realized that I am much more than what I thought I was," she said. "They really want you to see the best in yourself."
For more on The Cove's services and to learn how to become a volunteer, click here.
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