Finding Hope and Living With Pride

Last year, Ronaldy experienced the lowest moment of her life. After finding the courage to leave a long-term relationship that had become abusive, she was left with nowhere to go and no one to turn to—until Volunteers of America-Greater New York (VOA-GNY) provided her with a safe home, emotional support and best of all: acceptance.

As a trans Latina, Ronaldy’s life had never been easy. After migrating to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic with her family as a teenager, she was sexually assaulted and thrown out of the house at age 18, when she revealed her desire to transition.

For years, she was homeless, staying with different friends each night or sleeping in the park. By the time she was in her twenties, she’d become involved with drugs and alcohol.

Her partner, with whom she lived for 14 years, was physically, sexually, and emotionally abusive, and his behavior worsened during the pandemic.

It was then that she decided to leave him.

At first Ronaldy felt afraid to be alone, but once she moved into permanent supportive housing at VOA-GNY, she began to see her life turn around.

The staff at VOA-GNY treated her like family. They helped her attend medical and mental health appointments and supplied her with clothes, linens, and furniture. Most importantly, the team was there for Ronaldy when she needed emotional support, especially as she underwent gender-affirming surgery, which she began around the same time that she took up residence at VOA-GNY.

“Having augmentation,” Ronaldy says, “had a big toll on my psychology. If not for VOA-GNY, I wouldn’t have made it—they are like the family I don’t have. They accept me.”

Today, Ronaldy has a safe home, an apartment of her own, and she’s leading a more fulfilling and hopeful life. For this, she credits VOA-GNY: “God put these people in my life. They were angels. They saved my life. I don’t know if I would be alive right now if not for them. They are my heroes. I was feeling hopeless and now I have a brand-new life.”