For some children, basic needs are a constant concern. For homeless students, graduating is just a pipe dream.
Rachel Freeman makes the best of every day. Now, at 21 years old, she is working to save up for a car.
However, in high school, work meant long hours at work paired with school work.
"I got a job at Wingstop,” Freeman said. “So, I was working 38 hours and going to school. I was working 5 p.m. to close, which was midnight at Wingstop.”
Rachel’s struggles began after losing her mom at just 9 days old. Then, adding insult to injury, she lost her father.
Her circumstances led her to coming face-to-face with not only homelessness, but addiction.
Rachel was able to overcome all of her struggles through love, compassion and resources offered by The Cove.
She went on to graduate high school and now advocates for others undergoing homelessness.
"How didn’t The Cove help me? I strongly believe if it wasn’t for The Cove and the volunteers, I probably would’ve never graduated high school,” said Freeman.
Not only did The Cove serve as a family, but also as a resource for Rachel to overcome addiction. Now, she spends her time encouraging others, like her coworker Michael Harris.
"Any time I feel down, because I make a stupid mistake, she acknowledges my good parts and just makes me feel better about the situation and about my day. So that I can look at the situation in a bright side,” said Harris.
The Cove serves homeless youth who fall under the McKinney-Vento Act. These students may be living doubled-up or in hotels or motels. They may be living in unsuitable conditions like in a tent, park, on a bench or in a car. Some homeless youth, under McKinney-Vento, live in shelters or unaccompanied by a guardian.
Thousands of Waco ISD students fall under this definition of homelessness.
Freeman, now 21 years old, works to remind others of the impact their actions have.
"My smile can affect someone’s day,” said Freeman.