Program ready to help at-risk young adults in East Tampa

ABC Action News
By Kera Mashek

TAMPA, Fla. – A new effort is underway to help at-risk young adults in Tampa.  he goal is to improve stability through mentoring, education and employment. And there’s even an incentive to help get them on the path to success.

Gary Chiles listened carefully in his first day of class at Gary Adult High School in Tampa. The 24-year-old is ready for a fresh start.

“Not having a father figure or mother there for me always, not having that guidance is what got me in this system.  I’m looking forward to better myself now. Those days i couldn’t control, but i can control my future,” Chiles said.

Gary was in and out of foster care, starting at age five. When he aged out of the system, he quickly realized he didn’t really know how to be an adult. He struggled to find steady work, pay credit card bills, and have stable housing..

“But there’s always hope,” said Chiles.

Gary’s now part of the first Employment Pathways Collaborative program through Eckerd Kids and its program, Paxen. The young people enrolled are all ages 18 to 24 from East Tampa and have gone through the juvenile justice system.

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