Jackie Turner has a full scholarship at William Jessup University in Rocklin, Calif., maintains a 4.0 grade point average, and spends her extra time doing volunteer work; but there are things missing in the 26-year-old’s life. Like many people with unique needs, she placed an ad on Craigslist. The headline? “I want to rent a mom and dad.”

“I’ve never felt the touch of my mom, hugging me and holding me. I don’t know what it’s like to look in my dad’s eyes and feel love instead of hatred,” Turner told News 10. Having suffered from a childhood marked by physical, sexual and emotional abuse, Turner took to the streets and turned to a life of crime and violence, eventually spending a year in jail for grand theft. After being released from prison, she decided to turn her life around. Even with such a dark past she has remained positive, but the holidays can bring sadness.

"In most aspects I'm doing great,” Turner told Yahoo, “but what about the void inside that goes unspoken about?" She says she placed the ad in search of two people who would sit and listen to her for a while, and “so that I could cry,” she says. The ad noted that she was seeking a mom and dad “for a couple of days during this holiday season. Every season around the holidays I am overcome with sadness.” For their compassion, she offered compensation of $8 an hour.

The ad elicited more than a dozen replies from families offering to host her for the holidays, but it generated another type of response that took Turner completely by surprise. Nearly a thousand people replied sharing similar stories and sentiments. As a result of all the reaching out, Turner partnered with her school to create a public on-campus event; called “Unzipped” the event will feature people speaking about their painful experiences and growth. Says Turner, "It's designed to help people not be silent about the pain that is going on inside of them."

"When you speak up, people start learning that they're not by themselves. Often we lock things inside of ourselves, like a lockbox of our secrets. But then you let one out and realize, 'I'm not by myself after all, am I?'"

News 10 reports on the inspiring story in the video below:

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