Lisa’s Story

Overcoming Obstacles, Achieving Success

Lisa O'Shields

Youth Services of Tulsa and Bridges Foundation

Lisa O’Shields of Sapulpa has refused to allow seemingly insurmountable obstacles stand in her way.

As a high school student, Lisa woke up each day at 5 a.m. to catch a city bus from the small apartment she shared with her mother and developmentally disabled sister to Edison High School.

“I had to ride the bus downtown and make a transfer to get to school,” she recalls.

After school, she caught another bus to a fast-food restaurant, where she worked until 11 p.m.

“I did that every day for more than a year,” she says.

It was a daily journey that most people can only imagine.

After graduating from high school, she was forced to leave her home and move in with her sister, an arrangement that didn’t work out.

Finding herself homeless, Lisa received a referral to Youth Services of Tulsa from her former high school counselor.

Youth Services, a United Way partner agency, quickly provided Lisa a furnished apartment.

“They even had clean towels and toiletries, it was amazing,” Lisa recalls.

In addition, the Bridges Foundation, also a United Way agency, provided her with clothing and a bicycle for transportation.

At Youth Services, she enrolled in the Transitional Living Program, which helped her develop a plan for independence and success. She also enrolled in the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation Culinary Trade Program at the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma. She completed the culinary program at the top of her class.

Today she works in the kitchen at Cancer Treatment Centers of America. She also moved from her Youth Service apartment into a new home in Sapulpa.

“I’m finally living independently and am able to save some money.”

Her goal is to pursue a degree at Tulsa Community College, and someday, become a United Way supporter.