Dehkontee Chanchan

Street Outreach and Skills & Strengths Facilitator, DC and Baltimore

Dehkontee was born in West African Monrovia, Liberia. At the age of nine, she and her sister were brought to the USA by their father. A tumultuous childhood created circumstances for her to run away from home with desires to live in New York City. She was placed in the foster care system, but found herself often running away to escape a system that did not provide adequately for her.

From the constant movement between family members and the system, Dehkontee developed a love of travel. In 2009, at the age of 16, Dehkontee was arrested for truancy. Little did she know that the arrest would end up being a blessing. At the age of 16 she was a ward of the state committed to the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS), with no family support and struggling to come out as a lesbian. With the help of the new support from DYRS, she graduated high school and became a college student in 2013 — but only for a semester — because of some difficult circumstances she experienced homelessness again from 2013 to 2015.

In 2015, Dehkontee called HER Resiliency Center looking for additional support. She took hold of what HER had to offer and is proud of the relationships and opportunities she took advantage of to get where she is today. As a result of being a part of HER, she knows what can come from being a part of the community when it’s time to make a change.

It was through her experience of couch surfing, the foster system, living in an unstable home – and then gaining the support she needed – that she learned about life, family, love and friendship. Motivated by this new solid support system, she not only joined the HER team but became an advocate for youth in the Juvenile System by speaking on panels and joining the youth counselor program at DYRS. In March of 2018 she received the Fabiola & Orlando Letelier Youth Activism Award for her involvement in the community.

In 2018 she was a Fellow for True Color United and participated in a research team advocating for LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness. Dehkontee is now enrolled in college again and plans to graduate in 2020-2021. She loves traveling, exploring, dancing and learning new things. She works at HER because she was once part of the system, but now is eager to share her experience with the young women she works with. She believes everyone can make a difference…every single day.


This Is What Resiliency Looks Like

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