Y-WE Become: Athena Fain

This fall we are highlighting stories of growth and becoming that we are witnessing within our young alumni as part of our six-week campaign, Y-WE Become. If you’d like to make a donation towards our $100,000 fundraising goal, click here.

Over the last five years Y-WE has shifted more deeply into its calling to respond to and center youth needs. Practically this has looked like welcoming new leadership, growing our team from a staff of 8 to 14, creating new structures of support and resource connection for families and youth, and being consistent in our commitment to co-creating a strengths based community of care. 

At Y-WE, we know the only constant is change. We continue to bear witness to the lives of our youth. Through grief, through deep losses, through the uncertainties of isolation, and through all the gloriously tumultuous moments that mark adolescent transitions from youth to adulthood.

Above all we are grateful for the transformations we have witnessed in the youth we serve. 

Athena Fain has been a youth participant in Y-WE programs since 2017. When attending her first Create Camp she admired the creative risks her peers took by sharing their words with such vulnerability at the open mic. Though she was also a writer, she wasn’t yet ready to share her words. She reflects “I was terrified of vulnerability at the time. I didn’t want to be selfish, to be greedy—but I thought, at a Y-WE Open Mic where all the eyes on me were warm and accepting…maybe I could. Maybe I could be vulnerable.” 

As Athena continued to participate in Y-WE programming her confidence grew. She states: “While I’ve definitely put in the most work in my own personal growth…I couldn’t have done it without Young Women Empowered. They foster a community that is so teeming with love and acceptance. It’s that…the adults in Y-WE, they care. They aren’t perfect, nobody’s perfect, but they listen, and they bring their best selves. They make this community one that is worth belonging to, in a way that I haven’t seen in any other space. I’ve changed a lot, since I first came to Carnation Farms in the summer of 2017. I’ve grown. But I’ve kept some parts of myself too. In some ways, I don’t think that hurting, vulnerable thirteen year old girl will ever leave. And I’m glad for that, because she deserves to be loved, and to love herself just as much as I do—and I am so, so grateful, for everyone who has taught me.” 

Huge thank you to Athena for sharing her story!

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*those who identify as women, girls, trans, non-binary, or gender expansive