Freedom Mcmurray, a Knox County resident, came to Ryan’s Place feeling uncertain and in need of help. She had nowhere to turn and hoped KCEOC Community Action Partnership’s Ryan’s Place could help her get a second chance at success.
Freedom was a high school student living with her grandmother. When she graduated, she moved out and found herself homeless with nowhere to turn. Her living situation with her grandmother had become an unstable situation for the both of them.
Freedom knew someone who was familiar with her situation who offered her a place to stay when she turned 18. The agreement was she could stay until Freedom went to college that Fall.
Three weeks after moving in, her friend’s husband gave both Freedom and the friend an eviction notice. Moving back into her grandmother’s home was not an option as the grandmother, brother and grandfather were evicted from their home. Once again, Freedom found herself homeless.
During her senior year she formed a relationship with a mentor. Her mentor, knowing she needed a place to live, suggested Freedom contact Ryan’s Place to see if there was availability. She came to Ryan’s Place in June 2019, the summer following her high school graduation.
KCEOC’s Ryan’s Place is a Crisis Center for youth ages 18-24 that are experiencing homelessness. There are multiple forms of homelessness such as staying in a place not meant for human habitation, fleeing a domestic violence situation, etc. Ryan’s Place is named in memory of Ryan White, a former client at the KCEOC Emergency Support Center who tragically passed away at age 18. Ryan’s Place keeps Ryan’s dream of having a place for youth to be safe and become adults. Ryan’s Place operates under a HUD Youth Homeless Demonstration Program Grant.
Services offered by Ryan’s Place include: housing search and counseling service (finding and obtaining housing), employment services (obtaining employment), education services (obtaining GED, applying for college), life skills training (money management, conflict management, parenting skills), and case management (referrals to professionals, assist with obtaining benefits, etc.).
Freedom explained her time at Ryan’s Place as good. She had her own space with everything she needed along with people she knew, so she had friends. Ryan’s Place offered her stability in a time she desperately needed it the most.
Freedom said, “My favorite part about Ryan’s place was seeing that I was not alone and there were other young people who were homeless as well.” She went on to say, “Ryan’s Place is an amazing program and is very beneficial to those in need, and it helps that there are people on staff with KCEOC who can connect with residents to offer more support.”
Before coming to Ryan’s Place she knew she wanted to attend college that Fall, and live on campus. Freedom and was accepted at the University of the Cumberlands. Freedom is a double major in Human Services and Christian Ministries. Spring of 2023 is her anticipated graduation date.
Freedom said, “Now I am Still living on campus, I am about to finish my second year of college; While things are not ideal right now, I still have everything I need. I have made friendships with people who help me in any way they can, and that goes a long way. For right now, my goal is finishing college. Life does get stressful, but I know as long as I am following where God leads me, he will provide and I will never go without what I need.”
Freedom is grateful for Ryan’s Place and KCEOC. She grew up in Barbourville and saw the impact KCEOC has on the community. She said there is a very high need in the area because poverty rates are so high. “This organization is such a blessing to rural Appalachia, and it helps individuals and families in so many immeasurable ways,” she said.
When asked what she would tell youth experience homelessness she said, “I would tell a youth who is homeless to stay strong. Life is very hard, but you will learn as you grow, and you will get through anything life throws at you. It is so important to find a purpose, find something that will motivate you to fight through all the struggles. For me, I turned to Christ and it is because of him and his strength that I am where I am today. He gives purpose to our lives and gives everything we need to live life.”
KCEOC is proud of how far Freedom has come on her journey. We wish her the best in her future endeavors. If you know a youth that is in need of services provided by Ryan’s Place you may contact 606-546-3152 for more information.