Homeless student: 'There is always hope'
The following letter is from Tina Giarla, the homeless student at Pinellas Park High who was profiled in the St. Petersburg Times on Feb. 24. After the story was published, a couple handfuls of folks made donations to her through a trust fund that was set up the school (also in the wake of the story). Tina sent this letter to The Gradebook to thank both them and the educators who have supported her in recent years:
I would like to express my appreciation to all who have reached out to me through the article that was written. I also want to encourage youth who are in similar and/or worse living conditions that there is always hope and not to become a “homeless” statistic. Having this article published has been a blessing. Each letter I have received not only opens my eyes to prosper farther than any “statistic” society places over my head, but to make those who care proud. To the generous individuals who have given me the extra nudge to move forward through any doubt in my mind, I thank you!
It is an unfamiliar feeling and at times a little overwhelming. Before this article, practically no one knew the slightest details plastered behind this smile. The feeling that I have made those who care proud is a feeling everyone should experience. Every step of my future will be bright and promising because of all the hearts who reached out to me in a time of much needed reassurance. For a minute there, my future seemed dim and limited. I have realized otherwise. To all who have become a part of my life, who helped me keep my head held high, who gave me words of advice - including (teacher) Mary Krouskos, (guidance counselor) Tamar Kinebrew, (teacher) Janis Smith, (teacher) Heidi Weber and my best friend Katiah’s family – you will forever be engraved in my heart. I truly appreciate the opportunities I have been given. Thanks to all of those who have made a difference.