My name is Calvin.
I am 19 years old, born and raised in the sunshine state of Florida. I come from very humble beginnings of a single-family home. The neighborhood I grew up in was full of drugs, gangs, gun violence, envy, peer pressure, and jealousy.
I went to school at Fort Pierce Westwood Academy. Let me give you a rear-view look into my adolescent school environment. I engaged in skipping school, girls, crime, and typical gang-related activities. I must say that I am still here by the grace of God. I have lost too many friends along the way because of gun violence.
I was referred to Eckerd Connects by The Ignite Youth Alliance Program.
You see, I had gotten myself into some serious trouble and was awaiting a trial, and it did not look good for me. I felt like I had gotten myself to the point of no return and could not see the light at the end. I felt like the Judge was really going to throw the book at me. Thankfully I was wrong! God had a plan and a purpose for my life.
Let me take you on this journey so you can see how my whole life changed when these two programs entered my life.
My Outreach Worker Marcus Mills introduced me to Ms. White and as a team, we created a plan. I enrolled into the (Eckerd Connects) Youth Connections Program in November 2020. In the Youth Employment Success Solutions (YESS) class, I learned so much, not just about employment opportunities, but real-life skills. The YESS training started me off with the basics on how to enter the workforce, literacy fundamentals for business, applied math in the workplace, using technology, communications, job readiness training, financial literacy, career planning, and how to explain legal barriers to employers. This was just the tip of the iceberg for me.
God is so good.
Let me tell you, I went back to court to tell the Judge about the programs I was in and asked for a second chance. Thanks to all these positive influences I now have in my life, I have changed my attitude and have a new outlook on life. The Judge noticed the difference in me and the progress I was making. He gave me a second chance!
Yes folks! Grace, mercy, love, peace, and humbleness has gotten me to this point. I am still a work in progress and have a long road ahead. This May, I earned my high school diploma! YES! I am currently employed and saving money to help pay for college. I will be enrolling in HVAC classes at IRSC this fall. My ultimate dream is to become a successful entrepreneur in the HVAC industry.
Thank you to Ignite Youth Alliance, Mr. Mills, Eckerd Connects, and Ms. White for being a beacon of light and much-needed driving force on my journey. Thank you so much for seeing my worth and potential as an individual. You all believed in me when I did not believe in myself, and for that I am forever in debt to you.
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