Lyric Wardlow: Once-homeless teen needs help getting education


Lyric Wardlow was 9 years old when she became homeless.

After she and her mother were evicted from their South Bend, Ind., house, the pair spent years couch surfing, living in homeless shelters, staying in hotels and using temporary housing programs to keep a roof over their heads. They moved to Austin when Wardlow was in high school, but she later abandoned her education to care for her mom, who has mental illness. They had no stable source of income. They didn’t have a car.

Wardlow, 19, remembers sitting as a child in the hot sun at a bus stop, crying and wondering why people wouldn’t help them.

“It’s hard to describe what I’ve been through,” she says.

These days, Wardlow is taking control of her life. She’s living in a North Austin apartment with her friend. She has two cats. She just finished an internship for a government relations firm, is working at a skating rink and wants to go back to college.

Wardlow moved out on her own when she was 17, sharing an apartment with three other people. She had gotten her GED through Goodwill Industries, a move that changed her life, she says. She was the speaker at her graduation. Then the agency asked her to speak to the board of directors. She accepted an internship offered to her by a board member, moved into an apartment with her friend and received services from LifeWorks, which helps young adults become self-sufficient. She also became a member of a group devoted to ending youth homelessness.

Wardlow took a few classes at Austin Community College, but she dropped out when a family member died and she needed time to emotionally recover.

Right now, she’s struggling to stay financially stable. She receives some public assistance and has her skating rink job, but she’s barely scraping by. She recently broke her wrist and has yet to pay those medical expenses. She is renting a car through a nonprofit vehicle program but uses public transportation as much as possible to save money on gas.

She wants to go back to college but still owes $350 in scholarship money she has to return because she quit. She lives paycheck to paycheck, she says. Ultimately, she says, she’d like a job helping people get their lives on track.

“I want to be successful,” she says. “I want to be a beautiful, confident black woman in this age. I don’t want to go to the store and wonder if there’s enough money in my bank account.”

To donate to Season for Caring, click here; to read about the other Season for Caring families, go to statesman.com/seasonforcaring.



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