My mother had her first child when she was 12. She has been fighting addictions her whole life. When I was two months old, me and my four siblings were sent to live with a great-aunt who didn’t really want us. One day my aunt walked out and never came back.
We ended up in various foster homes and group homes, sometimes together, sometimes apart. The foster parents I had were not bad people, but they basically did the minimum. So, as I stood in front of the judge that day at the age of 18, no one had ever taught me how to find a job, or find a place to live, or buy groceries, or keep a budget …
Even I knew I wasn’t prepared to be on my own in the world.
I mean, I wanted my freedom for sure. I had just spent two years of my life in juvenile detention for various theft-related crimes. No one wants to be in detention. But I was terrified of going down the path I’d been on.
I knew too many friends and relatives in prison. Juvenile detention was enough for me.
You can believe me when I tell you that I say a prayer of gratitude every day that the judge didn’t do that. Instead, he assigned me to Eckerd Connects’ Project Bridge.”
Project Bridge taught me how to manage money and save for the future.
They also convinced me to go to school. I want to be a chef, and I just got my first culinary arts certificate. When I needed a computer for school, they found one for me. They helped me get my driver’s license. My plan is to get a better job in a restaurant and keep working towards getting a college degree. Someday I hope to be a personal chef or open my own restaurant.
Every morning, I wake up with hope and my plan. I have a long way to go, and I know I still need a lot of help, but I really want to make something of myself and my life.
I’m so glad to be able to share my story with you! When I think back to that day in front of the judge, I know if he had not put me in the arms of Eckerd Connects, I would be in jail now. Or in some other kind of trouble.”
The thing is that I know lots of other people like me. You can say “Stay out of jail!” or “Get a job!” or “Get an education!” But sometimes people don’t realize how hard all of that is if you haven’t had anyone to teach you how to get ahead in the world.
Consider supporting Eckerd Connects. You can truly change a life, it changed mine.
Eckerd Connect Project Bridge Graduate