Letter from Matthew

Matthew recently sent us a letter detailing what our Workforce Development program meant to him. It is special to feel the impact we are making across the nation. 

Matthew with his diplomaEarly on in my life, from ages 1 ½ -12 years old, I lived with my older sister. She was my legal guardian. I do not have any other siblings that are close to my age. I was unsure of where my parents were during that time. I later learned there were some legal issues with both of my parents and my sister seemed to be the best person to take care of me. Growing up in my sister’s care, I didn’t think much of it. She always made sure I had what I needed and took good care of me. In school, people started asking me all kinds of questions about my parents. I realized at this point that my family situation was different. 

In middle school, I began spending more time with my mother and was exposed to her lifestyle. She didn’t make the best decisions when it came to me and my needs. I began to see just how different my life was with my sister, and I missed it. My grades and behavior started to decline. It had a lot to do with my home environment. I started to become angry even before leaving the house for school and it carried over to my behavior at school. I would have these outbursts and arguments with my mother. The situation only got worse as time passed. 

Home was unstable and unpredictable for me. The summer after 7th grade, I moved in with my parents permanently which was very challenging. I was failing school and had to attend summer school due to my absences. I didn’t do very well in summer school, but I passed. It seemed as if I could not do anything right. 8th grade was a struggle for me, but I somehow got through. 

High school seemed like an uphill battle from the beginning. When I started my sophomore year in high school, I began to really dislike attending school. It really was never my favorite thing, but my focus and interest began to decline. It wasn’t just the classwork; it was the atmosphere and the overall feeling from teachers and students at school. I never really felt as if I “fit in”. I struggled academically and socially. 

It almost felt as if everyone else was on one page and I was on another. I did not enjoy talking or sharing in class. I certainly didn’t enjoy sitting and talking with 50 people in the lunchroom. I was not one to enjoy attending school social events such as pep rallies, football games, or other sports. 

Attending school began to feel like a chore when it used to be my opportunity to get out of the house and be free from negativity. It felt like the negativity from home began to carry over into my school life. 

So, I began trying to find other options for my education. My mother met Miss Gina, my Career Coach, at Eckerd Connects and Career Source Youth Connections and we scheduled an appointment to meet with her. Miss Gina listened to my struggles with school and had a solution: online high school. So, I enrolled in the program, where I earned a SafeStaff food handler’s certification, completed an internship, and most importantly earned my high school diploma through Penn Foster. I am currently employed full-time in the construction industry with Reel Trims. I have discovered that I enjoy building and working with my hands. 

I am so thankful for all the support and structure Miss Gina has provided. I feel like this was the opportunity that I needed to get my life back on track. I sometimes have an issue with procrastinating. I continue to work on it and push myself to do better. This is my journey, and I am excited to reach my destination with my education. I am looking forward to all the future opportunities I have available. I will not allow my past to dictate what my future will be. 

– Matthew 

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