The tattoo takes up her whole forearm.
It’s one of the first things you notice when you meet 19-year-old Raeanna Glidewell, “Rae” for short.
The tattoo shows the outline of a woman from the shoulders up, but the top of her head is wide open. In its place is all galaxy. Planets floating in space. Stars swirling in the background.
“It’s kind of like all the stuff going on in my head,” Glidewell said. “We don’t know everything about space, and it’s maybe scary but it could be something really beautiful.”
Glidewell just moved into Mimi’s House, a home for homeless teen girls that recently opened in Casper. She wears a bracelet on her wrist gifted to her when she arrived. Her hair — half green, half dark brown — sits in a bun on the top of her head.
The teenager came to Mimi’s after a hard year. She attempted to take her life three times, visited the Wyoming Behavioral Institute three times and also spent time in a treatment center in Chicago.
Most recently, Glidewell checked herself into a treatment facility in Colorado for her mental health and an eating disorder. But soon after arriving, Glidewell attempted suicide. She was kicked out and sent to another facility. She stayed there on suicide watch for four days, then took a bus back to Wyoming. When she finally made it back to Casper, she went to the Wyoming Behavioral Institute, where she stayed for a week.
“It was probably the worst thing that’s ever happened to me,” she said, her voice heavy with exhaustion.
It’s gotten to the point where her parents don’t really know what to do.
So now Glidewell is here, in a teal-colored building with one other girl and a woman named Lori who was recently hired to be the house mom. She hopes this is where she can turn things around for herself.
“I just want something good to happen in my life,” she said.
Part of the Mimi’s House mission is to get the girls on whatever educational path they want. When Glidewell heard this, her eyes lit up. She wants to attend cosmetology school.
“That’s awesome,” she said, her demeanor shifting. “I didn’t know that.”
Glidewell arrived at Mimi’s House on the eve of the organization’s Wednesday ribbon-cutting ceremony. The chaos of the day overwhelmed her, and at one point she retreated to her bedroom.
Her room was still a little bare. But her bed was adorned with a colorful bedspread that she picked out from donated options. A handful of colored pencils were splayed across it.
Glidewell was only the second girl to move into Mimi’s House, which had only been open to residents for a week. This was all new to her. Despite her initial reticence, though, Glidewell was eager.
“In my heart and mind I know this is going to be best for me,” she said.
Dominique Hood can relate.
Hood is 17 years old. She’s tall, with curly dark hair and a warm, open demeanor. She was the first official Mimi’s House resident.
Hood has lived in Casper on and off since she was in the fourth grade. Lately, she’s been on her own.
“I haven’t been living in my mom’s household since I was 15,” she said.
This time last year, Hood was out of school and living in Sheridan with a boyfriend and his family. But that relationship turned violent, she said, and she came back to Casper to escape the abuse.
Her return to town was meant to offer her some security, but instead it only escalated her situation. She was living with a friend, but that friend started using hard drugs. Things devolved from there.
In August, she attempted suicide.
“I was going through a really hard time this summer,” she said.
You have free articles remaining.
She has a tattoo on her forearm that resembles a heart rate on a hospital monitor to remind her of all she’s been through. And lately, things have been looking up. Hood recently got a one-eyed blue heeler puppy. Timon is Hood’s safety net. He helps her with her anxiety, she said. Timon is also the reason Hood is at Mimi’s House.
It’s hard enough to find a place to live as a lone teenager, but no one wanted to take in both a teen and a puppy, Hood said. A friend had read something about Mimi’s House on social media and suggested Hood look into it. And that was that.
“It makes me feel more secure,” Hood said about her new digs.
Now Hood is looking to the future. She dropped out of high school last year, but plans to return and earn her diploma. Then she hopes to go to medical school to become a trauma or brain surgeon.
“I hate needles, which is a con, but I’ll get over it.”
On the day of the open house, Hood was constantly running around, taking donated paper towels to the utility room, going up and down the stairs and showing all the visitors around the recently renovated house.
Periodically, new smiling, celebratory faces came into the foyer, eager to meet Hood and Glidewell and congratulate Miamie Sleep and Chastidy Greenwood, the two women behind Mimi’s House, for making it all happen.
Everywhere was jubilance and celebration. Hugs and handshakes and near constant “wow”s circled the room.
“We’ve been here every day until 9 p.m. for the last two weeks,” Sleep, the founder of Mimi’s House, said. Greenwood, her executive director, hadn’t slowed down for a minute on the day of the open house.
For three years, Sleep has come home from her 40-hour-a-week day job doing sales and marketing for Servpro to sit down at her kitchen table and work on Mimi’s House. She studied, wrote grants, lobbied lawmakers and community leaders, solicited donations.
Finally, it’s all coming together. As she talked, a woman she identified playfully as “our curtain lady” was hanging cooking-themed fabric over the window in the kitchen.
There was a Christmas tree in the living room, and presents with the girls’ names on them “from Santa” underneath. The dining table was set with festive red plates and holiday decor spilled out of every room. Upstairs, red and green stockings hung from the banister.
This was the home the girls will know from now on. They’ll be able to stay as long as they need, and all of the people responsible for making Mimi’s House a reality will be by their sides the rest of their lives. At least that’s what Sleep hopes.
Eventually, Mimi’s House will be home to eight girls 16-19 years old. But for at least the first year or two, the home will be occupied only by Glidewell and Hood. That will give Sleep and the rest of the Mimi’s House team an opportunity to learn the ropes, she explained.
This is where Lori Howard comes in.
Howard is a straight shooter. She emanates the confidence of someone who knows what they’re doing because they’ve been doing it a while. Howard was recently hired as the “house mom” for Mimi’s House after spending years working at Casper’s Primrose Retirement Community.
So last week she moved all of her stuff and an old yellow lab named Abbie into an upstairs bedroom at the house she’ll now also be calling home.
“It’s really been on my heart for a long time,” Howard said.
She read an article about Mimi’s House early on in the process and it touched her. She had worked with displaced teens before, she said, and called it one of the most meaningful experiences of her life.
Howard’s main job at Mimi’s is to be the caretaker, the listening ear, the shoulder to cry on.
“I’m not a counselor,” Howard said, “I’m just mom.”
She’ll help the girls with their homework, she’ll get them connected to health care resources, she’ll have a warm meal waiting for them at the end of the day, a time Howard has dubbed “our time.”
But Howard acknowledged that the family dynamic, which has been touted as such a large part of the Mimi’s House mission, won’t happen overnight.
“It’s like with any relationship, it’s gonna take time.” Howard said. “We have to earn each others’ trust.”
So far, that hasn’t been a problem.
“I’ve already called her ‘mom’ like three times,” Hood said.
Follow local government reporter Morgan Hughes on Twitter @morganhwrites