Youth Stories 2014

RJ’s Story

teen_emotionalEmbarrassed and shy. That is how RJ came to us 3 years ago. He was 15 at the time and had been moving around with his family from motel to motel. Sometimes they would live out of their car, sometimes they would stay with relatives, most of the time they would live out of motels.

RJs parents were both very impoverished people. Having grown up in the cycle of homelessness, living in a motel was an upgrade for them. Partly due to their addictions, partly due to being stuck in this homeless cycle, they were hardly able to provide for their two children: RJ and his sister. Oftentimes there would not be food in the pantry and RJ became accustomed to the pain of hunger.

RJ, by temperament, is a very sweet and caring young man. He loved his parents dearly and would never  speak poorly of them. He was also very embarrassed of his impoverished lifestyle.

When RJ came to YouthHope, he was extremely timid and would quickly blend in with the other youth—not wanting to be noticed. He would shyly join the line for a hot meal and would only come back for seconds when announced that there was enough.

It took a whole year for RJ to trust us with his needs. He was very embarrassed to admit to us that his parents were drug-users and that he was in need of groceries because they were unable (both mentally and financially) to put food on the table for him and his sister.

He was also in need of help getting back into school. Due to all the moving, he missed a lot of schooling and was behind in a great deal of credits. Heidi helped get him into Orangewood High School, where he graduated this last June!

RJ had been looking for a job for months. When he approached us with this need, YouthHope brought him to ROP where he was hired at Kohls! While in ROP, youth work for a company for 6 months. During this 6 month period, ROP pays the youth for their work hours, and the company receives their labor at no cost. After this 6 months the company is encouraged to hire the employee as one of their own—no longer to be paid through ROP. Some youth do not learn the skills in time to become hired by the company. Others simply do not make it past the 6 month training period. RJ worked very diligently while in ROP and was then asked by his supervisor to apply for an official position at Kohls! We are SO proud of RJ and all his hard work and efforts to help provide for himself and his family.

RJ’s story is not uncommon among our youth. Many times we judge these youth by what we see— by their clothing, language, unhygienic appearance, or their overall image; but what we do not know is where they came from. What brought them to this place of living, and will they ever break this cycle of homelessness to see that they CAN receive more out of life. That it IS possible to succeed amidst it all. Many of our youth lose hope before they reach this place of success, but YouthHope is here to bring that back to them.

 

THE LOSS OF ONE OF OUR OWN

The sound of a gunshot pierced the otherwise quiet night on Post Street.

Redlands, a city known for its quaint orange tree groves and friendly local-folk, experienced an unexpected tragedy that night. Marcus Green, a Redlands East Valley High School student, age 17, was shot and killed on the night of September 17th, 2014.

Marcus had been hanging out with his best friend Isaac* and had planned to sleep over that night. Isaac, a petite 13 year old boy who has experienced a painfully great deal of life in his few years, shared a similar lifestyle to Marcus. Both had little-to-no family support, both had been couch-surfing among their relatives and friends, always on the move and never having a place to call their home; and both came from places where substance-abuse was common among their parents and relatives.

Their age difference made them the most unlikely of friends, but within the last 3 years Isaac and Marcus were best friends. You would never see one without the other. Marcus would protect Isaac on the streets, and Isaac in-turn always had Marcus’ back. Without fail.

On the night of his death,  Marcus had entered a neighbor’s yard to clip some of his marijuana plants. It was commonly known in the neighborhood that this man would grow weed in his backyard, and many local kids would hop his fence to steal it for their recreational use. As Marcus was leaving his yard, ready to show Isaac the few clippings he had taken, the man shot Marcus straight through the chest.  Isaac, who had been waiting in the nearby alleyway for Marcus’ return, heard the gunshots and ran to help Marcus.

He rushed around the corner only to find the man dragging  his body into the alleyway. Isaac, crying and afraid, slapped Marcus, begging him to come-to. Marcus took 3 breathes, and breathed his last.

“I was there Heidi. I stayed with him ‘til 4 in the morning…that’s when the ambulance took him away,” Isaac told Heidi Mayer the next morning.  Our dear little Isaac stayed with Marcus’ body for 4 hours that night—until he was forced to be removed when the police and coroners arrived.

Marcus Green was a YouthHope youth. He was one of our very own. You may have read this story of his death in the local newspaper. Many depict Marcus as a trouble-maker and a youth up to no good—dying for trying to steal a weed plant. Though we recognize his poor decisions in life, we know who Marcus truly  was, and the kind of life he was taught. His father had been in and out of prison for more than 15 years of Marcus’ life; and whenever he was out of jail, Marcus was often physically abused. He moved from his grandparents home, to his aunts home, to various friends’ homes within any given week. He had no stable upbringing, and since he was 13 Marcus  had been on his own, raising himself. Given his lack of a caring and nurturing home, it is  no wonder Marcus came to us in need of help. He would be present for every meal time, sign up for Christmas Shoes every year, and would always seek a hug from the volunteers whenever they arrived.

Marcus would be the first to approach the van to unload and help setup when we would arrive on a meal-day, and was always lending a helping hand around YouthHope. Marcus was a typical street-kid but he was one that was moving forward. He was so excited to be graduating from high school this year; and he would have been the first in his family to do so. He truly wanted to make others proud of him, and would do anything to make you laugh. He was a silly, goofy, mischievous, young 17 year old boy, who had a great deal of painful life experiences. We loved Marcus so much and will greatly miss our sweet and silly boy.

Please keep YouthHope, Isaac, and Marcus’ peers in your prayers, as his loss greatly affects so many  of our youth and volunteers.

 

 Frankie

sadteenNever has a youth been so in need of love and attention as our dear youth Frankie. Frankie first came to YouthHope as a petite and malnourished 13 year old. He was always the one to get picked on, the one to be teased and the one to take the beatings for being so weak and “worthless.” Due to the neglect and traumatic events experienced by Frankie as a baby, Frankie grew with a difficulty in his oral development and has a speech impediment that makes it very difficult to understand him. This became a target for his peers to poke fun at him and bully him for his poor ability to speak.  Frankie had a great deal of insecurities and anger that would only lead to further torment from his peers.

The home and environment in which Frankie was raised was nothing short of neglectful, abusive, and unstable. As a young child, Frankie would witness his dad hit and abuse his mother repeatedly.  He would try and intervene but would only get hit and beat in the process. His parents soon split and he was left to roam from family member to family member. As Frankie’s dad and close uncles would go in and out of jail, Frankie would move back and forth from his grandmother’s house to various relatives. In this family it was “fend for yourself.” Frankie had very little guidance and no attention or direction from any parental figure. Not only this, but he was scarred from the abuse he would continue to face anytime his dad came back into his life.

For his entire 9th grade school year, Frankie did not attend school. With no one to encourage him or even set an example of education being a necessity, Frankie missed an entire year of his high school education. After coming to YouthHope for some time, Frankie began to open up and ask for help. Heidi was able to get him put back into the school district and to continue high school.

Frankie is now 17 and works part-time at a mechanic’s shop. His upbringing and traumatic experiences have left him with a great deal of mental struggles and needs. Many recognize Frankie as loud and chaotic – always causing a ruckus and in need of attention – however we see a hurting young man who just wants to be loved and cared for…we see the Frankie that has been abused, neglected and left to raise himself. We see a youth, like so many of our youth, who just need to be loved and told “you can make it!”

Frankie will be entering his senior year of high school and his journey will only continue. He has a long ways to go but we know that Frankie CAN make it and we will continue to encourage him to push forward and pursue higher education.

 Gavin

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A mothers’ hug, a fathers’ care—this is all Gavin wanted and wished he had growing up. Just a family to love him. Instead, Gavin was placed in foster care at age 3 due to substance abuse in the home. His parents chose the drug over their child.

From ages 3—11 he went from foster home to foster home, not having a parental figure to provide the genuine love and care every child needs for a healthy development. Gavin grew up without an understanding of what it meant to be loved.

At age 11 Gavin and his brother were both adopted into a family that had been his foster care providers for the last year. Though his adopted family cared for Gavin and helped to raise him, they did not know how to love him and treat him like a son.

As Gavin grew up and went through the struggles of high school and identity searching, his family was less than supportive. They could not understand why his ADD affected his schooling so much, they could not understand the depression and pain he was experiencing as he faced the fact that his birth parents could not let go of their drug to raise their child. To be abandoned and neglected in that way makes a child feel unworthy and unwanted. As they grow up and try to discover and establish their own identity, this pain becomes a part of that identity.

Due to the ADD, depression, and struggle in school, Gavin and his adoptive parents fought constantly. Instead of encouraging Gavin and being a supportive family for him, they put him down and discouraged him for his “failures”. Gavin soon fell very behind in school and dropped out altogether. He could no longer take the verbal and emotionally abusive environment at home, so he left and began couch surfing with friends.

Gavin came to us a few months ago, seeking an encouraging environment. His friend introduced him to YouthHope, promising that “there are good people there.” The first day we met Gavin, he hardly spoke two words together. He was so quiet and afraid to let an adult in, that he did not make eye contact with anyone.

The next couple weeks were similar to this behavior—he would only talk to one friend, he would sit quietly and listen to everyone else, but would not engage. As we would make small conversation with Gavin or offer a meal or an encouraging word—he slowly began to feel comfortable with us. Slowly he began to share his story.

Gavin is now one of the most talkative and outgoing youths that frequently attends YouthHope. You would not recognize the young man who attends today from the one who walked in a few months ago. Acceptance and love was all he needed to move forward and realize he is wanted and valued! Gavin is actively pursuing taking his GED and we are so proud of how far he has come and how hard he is working to move forward!

 

Timothy

homelessmanWhen Timothy was two years old, his young life began to change.  His father fell ill and subsequently died due to cirrhosis of the liver caused by being an alcoholic and cocaine addict.  Young Timothy and his little sister were left with his mother, also a drug addict.  Living conditions for Timothy and his little sister steadily grew worse.  Thankfully, Tim’s grandmother came to the rescue.

Timothy and his little sister went to live with their grandmother.   A short time later, his mother became pregnant again, and soon his baby brother also came to live with their grandmother.  Timothy, his sister and baby brother were all grateful to their grandmother for taking them in and taking good care of them.  Unfortunately, the family was forced to move constantly.  During all of these transitions Tim noticed that it was difficult to sit still.  He always had to keep himself busy and he always had a lot of thoughts running through his head.   Tim was diagnosed with ADD/ADHD.

During this time he was attending a local junior high-school but socializing with youth that were attending high-school.  These high-school youth became Tim’s good friends. Soon after, Tim and his family moved once again.

Tim had moved so many times, it was hard for him to acclimate to another new place and he missed his old high-school friends.  He was bored and frustrated.  He decided to run-away and visit his old friends.  Once Timothy started to run-away, he didn’t stop.  He ran-away often and his grandmother couldn’t control him any longer.  Unfortunately, Tim was sent to a group foster home.

Initially he did well at the group homes, but eventually his ADD/ADHD symptoms became an issue.  When it was time to relax and watch tv, Tim wanted to go outside and play football.  He couldn’t stay still.  Eventually, he ran-away from the group homes as well because he couldn’t seem to find a good fit.  Timothy ended up living on the streets.

For months, Tim lived in a laundry room in an apartment complex.  He would sleep against the dryer to keep warm.  Timothy needed to make some money and thought it would be easy to sell drugs.  It didn’t take long before he was caught and sent to jail.

While in jail, Timothy thought long and hard about where he was in life and decided that he wanted to change paths.  When he was released, he heard about YouthHope.

Tim sought out YouthHope and felt welcomed.  Initially, he didn’t feel comfortable discussing his past, but eventually he did and he realized that the people at YouthHope really did care about him and were willing to help.  YouthHope provided Tim with food, school supplies and even helped him get into college.  He struggled several times, but with the love and support of YouthHope, he has continued to move forward with his life.  YouthHope helped Tim attend the Center for Employment Training (CET) where he was trained as a welder.

To stay off the streets, YouthHope helped him get into a program called Inspired.  Tim has a place to live and has done well there.  He has mentors to help him get his life together.

Tim credits YouthHope with helping him through the toughest times of his young life.  Although he doesn’t attend YouthHope any longer, he still texts Heidi Good Morning each day!

Based on a self reported survey in 2012, 37% of YouthHope attendees have parents with drug or alcohol problems.

 Lisa

homeless_teenLisa lives in a world filled with many challenges.   Her mother is a drug addict that is homeless and lives on the streets.  Lisa’s father lives in another state and is a former convict.   Lisa is fortunate to live with her Grandparents, but unfortunately, they have very limited resources and there is often little or no food in the house.  Lisa’s story is one that most of us would find unfathomable.  With so many challenges in her young life, Lisa could easily have chosen the wrong path and ended up like her mother or father.   Instead, Lisa’s story is one of hard work, and a strong spirit.  Lisa refuses to give up.   She has vowed to stay away from drugs, and she works hard at school to keep up her grades and she regularly attends YouthHope meetings to receive the love and support that she so desperately needs.

Even though Lisa’s life presents many challenges, she still volunteers her time at YouthHope to help whenever she can.  This past month when YouthHope was doing all of the demolition work at our new facility, Lisa was the first one to arrive in the  morning and the last one to leave.  Lisa worked hard all three days helping to get the new building ready for construction.   In addition to her school studies and regularly attending YouthHope gatherings, Lisa’s goal in life is to become an author.  She loves to read and write and hopes to someday author her own novel.

YouthHope has provided Lisa with many services to help her through the rough times that she has had to face.   On several occasions Lisa’s mother would come to her grandparents home and be physically abusive to Lisa.  After one of these incidents, YouthHope case managers found a ‘safe house’ for Lisa to stay in until her Mother was back on the streets and it was safe for Lisa to return to her Grandparent’s home.

YouthHope case managers have also taken Lisa grocery shopping so that she would have food to eat when her Grandparents didn’t have money to provide it.  YouthHope also frequently provides the family with food items from the YouthHope food pantry or gatherings to augment the family’s grocery items.

Lisa has also been the recipient of  new shoes from the ‘Shoes for Christmas, Hope for a Life Time’ shoe program.   In addition, on several occasions, Lisa has been able to receive clothes from the YouthHope clothing closet.

YouthHope case managers have also spent many hours mentoring Lisa and providing her with moral support as well as lots of love and hugs.  Case managers have  provided Lisa with many $5.00 gift cards to local fast food restaurants when meeting with Lisa and providing her with Case Management services.  YouthHope has also provided Lisa with a backpack and school supplies to make sure that she has the necessary items to be successful in school.

YouthHope Case Managers have high expectations for Lisa.  We just know that she is going to excel and achieve her dreams!

 Steven

Alone TeenSteven was just 14 when he first became homeless.  Steven was born in Redlands to an educated family.  His father is a professor at a local university.  Steven’s life started to change when his parents divorced due to his mother’s worsening Schizophrenia. Steven’s mother moved to San Francisco after the divorce.  Not long afterwards, Steven’s father decided that he would send Steven to visit his mother in San Francisco.  What Steven didn’t know was that his father only purchased a one-way ticket for him.   At the time, Steven didn’t realize that his father didn’t want him any longer because he wanted to get married again.

Steven lived with his mother for a few months in San Francisco, but it was very difficult to live with her given her mental health issues.  Steven was diagnosed with ADHD at an early age, and his mother kept giving him more and more of his ADHD medicine.   She would give him multiple doses a day.  Due to the excessive medication, Steven wasn’t able to sleep at night and he wasn’t able to eat much.  He always felt jittery and restless.   Steven finally figured out that all of the extra medication was causing these adverse reactions, and he started spitting out the medication when his mother repeatedly gave it to him.  When Steven realized that his father wasn’t going to let him come back home, he was prepared to run away.  He just couldn’t continue to live with his mother and her many mental health problems.   Luckily for Steven, his new stepmother was sympathetic to his circumstances and sent him an airline ticket so that he could travel to the East Coast and live with a long time family friend.

Steven stayed with this family for about six months before returning to the Redlands area.  When Steven came back to Redlands, he once again asked his father if he could live with him.   His father said no, he could not.  At this time Steven was approximately 16 years old and homeless.   Steven was fortunate in that he could occasionally ’couch surf’ and sleep for a few nights at a time at other people’s homes.  Unfortunately, occasionally sleeping on someone’s couch or floor doesn’t always mean that there is food to eat or clean clothes to wear.   Many times, Steven would survive by eating catchup packets from fast-food restaurants.  Sometimes the catchup would be the only food that Steven would eat for several days.  When YouthHope Case Managers first met Steven he only had the clothes on his back.   YouthHope Case Managers provided Steven with clothes, personal hygiene items, hot nutritious meals several days per week, and food from the YouthHope food pantry when he needed it most.   Most importantly, YouthHope provided Steven with hope!  At a time when Steven was most vulnerable, he knew that there were people who cared about him.

Ultimately, YouthHope Case Managers were able to put Steven in contact with a local organization called Inspire.  Inspire provides case management services and homes for homeless youth to live in while they are making strides to move forward in their lives.   We are happy to report that Steven is now living in a boys home run by Inspire.   Due to a tremendous amount of help by YouthHope Case Managers, Steven was able to enroll in classes at Crafton Hills College. He is also working 30 hours a week at a local pizza parlor.  Steven is very talented and hard working. He is a gifted writer and hopes to become a journalist one day.  Even though he is busy with school and work, Steven still manages to attend some YouthHope gatherings. He has even begun to volunteer his time at YouthHope by helping to write some small grants.  Keep up the hard work Steven, we just know you will be successful!

 Catherine

Stock Image of DepressionCatherine: “There are not a lot of people that know about me. I’m the girl that everyone sees but never notices. It’s easy for me to be the “good girl” and to say “everything is ok” on the outside, but on the inside I feel out of control and hopelessly sad. I’m awkward and shy, but there’s so much more to me than what meets the eye. Our electricity at home has been shut off or has come very close to being shut off every month for as long as I can remember. There have been many months where I cannot find even a can of food inside of my home. If I find any food, I usually make sure my sister eats before I do. She means everything to me. Sometimes I’m scared that if I don’t take care of her, then nobody will. She doesn’t seem to have a clue about what is going on in our house. She laughs and smiles a lot. I don’t really get it, but I’d like to keep it that way.

My mom works two jobs and hardly spends any time at home, at least not when we are at home. My mom works very hard to keep a roof over our heads, and for that I am grateful. Her boyfriend is a Heroin Junky and has been living with us off and on for years. I hate him. He yells at me. He doesn’t work. He doesn’t pay rent. He cheats on my mom. He steals her food stamps and other things around the house to sell for his next fix. My mom knows that he does this yet continues to stay with him. She is scared to death of being alone, but she has little or no regard for me and my sister. She doesn’t get that she is ruining our lives by letting him stay.

I scratch. I scratch and I scratch until my skin is raw. I hardly notice I do it until I see my skin bleeding. I have a lot of scars from my scratching- it’s embarrassing be-cause I always tend to do it on places that everyone can see. I try to cover them up with bandanas or bracelets, but I catch people staring. Everyone stares but nobody asks. Nobody cares.

I feel like my scratching is my body’s weird way of letting the world know I’m not ok. I’ve never taken anything sharp to my body because it feels wrong and unnatural – but I find comfort in the natural scratching of my nails against my flesh. It reminds me I’m alive. It soothes my pain that I feel so deep. The only safe place I’ve found in years is at Heidi’s, or “YouthHope”. They provide a meal and a place to hang out a couple times a week and EVERYONE asks how I’m doing. I hardly respond with the truth- but some of them look at me as if they see me and my pain. It’s the only place I feel like I belong and it provides an outlet for me to get away from my house. The longer I’m out of my house, the more normal I feel. They really seem to care about me there.

A few weeks ago I broke down to one of the volunteers, who asked me how I was doing when I was on the verge of a meltdown. I told her everything- even about the scratching. She was immediately ready to hug me and to help me. For the first time, I cried about my situation to someone outside of myself. I felt noticed and loved. She gave me a journal and some paints as an outlet. That was the first gift I’d received in years.
Since then, my home life has not changed much, but I’ve found a place of refuge to ease me from my pain. I haven’t felt alone in my pain in months. I have people who look forward to seeing me and who care enough to call if I haven’t shown up in a while. I feel safe to call when I’m not ok. YouthHope makes me feel like everything is going to be ok.

"Charles"

Charles

When Charles was only a child, he and his mother lived on the streets of Russia. Devastatingly, at age nine, Charles suffered the loss of his mother and was placed in an orphanage. After five years, he was adopted by an American family and was brought to the U.S.  However, because he had spent a majority of his life homeless or in an orphanage, his knowledge foundation was limited and he soon fell behind in school.  His parents found his learning disabilities to be frustrating, and when Charles failed to graduate high school, his parents sent him away from their home in Texas to a behavioral center in Redlands.  Within a few months, Charles left the program, fell into heavy drinking, and became homeless.  It was in this place that Charles first reached out to YouthHope.  YouthHope assisted Charles in joining the California Conservation Corps.  Charles thrived in CCC, and later joined the fire reserve.  After gaining valuable skills and living on his own for the last three years, Charles once again found himself in need of assistance and returned to Redlands in search of the support he knew he could find in organizations such as YouthHope.  Within a week of reuniting with YouthHope, Charles is already attending C.R. England truck driving school in Fontana, where he is given housing, free school, and a guaranteed nine month job after finishing the two week program.  As Heidi drove Charles to his new program early one February morning, the car was filled with both excitement and nervousness as his new adventure was about to begin.

Charles completed his two week program from C. R. England truck driving school and passed the written examination with flying colors!   Heidi recently received a message from Charles stating that he was already working and driving a big rig traveling across the country.   In his messages to Heidi, Charles has often expressed his thanks and devotion to both Heidi and YouthHope.   YouthHope was instrumental in helping Charles gain access to the truck driving program and also in providing him with the necessities he required during his time spent at the training facility.  The next message that Heidi received from Charles indicated that he was thoroughly enjoying his new career and was driving through the snow in Ripley, West Virginia.  Heidi and the staff at YouthHope are eagerly awaiting upcoming communications from Charles and his further adventures in life.  Our best wishes and hope for a successful future will continue to follow him on his journeys.   It is this type of rewarding outcome that keeps Heidi and the staff of YouthHope focused on the positive contributions that YouthHope is making on a daily basis in these young peoples’ lives.

Emily

What is a Grandfather to do?….  How does he raise a 17 year old Granddaughter and two Grandsons alone?  This special Grandfather lost his daughter (the children’s mother), and recently became a widower when he lost his wife.  This Grandfather is now raising a 17 year old Granddaughter and 2 Grandsons alone.  What does this Grandfather do when Emily and her younger brothers are hungry at the end of the month because there is no more money to purchase food?  Emily, the 17 year old Granddaughter, recently came to YouthHope looking for love, support, and some basic necessities.  When a case manager interviewed Emily, she indicated that she needed help to learn how to write a resume and how to find a job because she and her brothers were hungry.  Emily indicated that she and her brothers needed assistance with acquiring food.  Emily’s Grandfather doesn’t always have the financial ability to purchase necessary groceries at the end of the month.  Emily also longs for a female mentor who can help fill the void of losing her Mother and now her Grandmother.  YouthHope case managers and volunteers are working hard to get to know Emily and understand what her requirements and needs are so that YouthHope can assist her with these most basic needs.  Emily will also receive hugs and unconditional love from the staff and many volunteers of YouthHope.  YouthHope provides services to youth with many different needs.  They aren’t always homeless, many just need a helping hand and a warm hug.  Look for updates regarding Emily and her situation soon.

 

James

A YouthHope Success Story…. When James was two years old, his young life began to change.  His father fell ill and subsequently died due to cirrhosis of the liver caused by being an alcoholic and cocaine addict.  Young James and his little sister were left with his mother, also a drug addict.  Living conditions for James and his little sister steadily grew worse.  Thankfully, James’ grandmother came to the rescue.

James and his little sister went to live with their grandmother.  A short time later, James’ mother became pregnant again, and soon James’ baby brother also came to live with their grandmother.  James, his sister and baby brother were all grateful to their grandmother for taking them in and taking good care of them.  Unfortunately, the family was forced to move constantly.  During all of these transitions James noticed that it was difficult to sit still.  He always had to keep himself busy and he always had a lot of thoughts running through his head.  James was diagnosed with ADD/ADHD.

During this time James was attending a local junior high-school but socializing with youth that were attending high-school.  These high-school youth became James’ good friends.  James and his family moved once again.
James had moved so many times, it was hard for him to acclimate to another new place and he missed his old high-school friends.  He was bored and frustrated.  He decided to run-away and visit his old friends.  One James started to run-away, he didn’t stop.  He ran-away often and his grandmother couldn’t control him any longer.  Unfortunately, James was sent to a group foster home.

Initially James did well at the group homes, but eventually his ADD/ADHD symptoms became an issue.  When it was time to relax and watch tv, James wanted to go outside and play football.  He couldn’t stay still.  Eventually, James ran-away from the group homes as well because he couldn’t seem to find a good fit.  James ended up living on the streets.  For months, James lived in a laundry room in an apartment complex.  He would sleep against the dryer to keep warm.  James needed to make some money so that he could eat, and thought it would be easy to sell drugs.  It didn’t take long before he was caught and sent to jail.

While in jail, James thought long and hard about where he was in life and decided that he wanted to change paths.  When he was released, he heard about YouthHope.  James sought out YouthHope and felt welcomed.  Initially, he didn’t feel comfortable discussing his past, but eventually he did and he realized that the people at YouthHope really did care about him and were willing to help.  YouthHope provided James with rood, school supplies and even helped him get into college. James struggled several times, but with the love and support of YouthHope, he has continued to move forward with his life.  YouthHope helped James attend the Center for Employment Training (CET) where James was trained as a welder.

To stay off the streets, YouthHope helped James get into a program called Inspired.  James has a place to live and has done well there.  he has mentors to help him get his life together.  James credits YouthHope with helping him through the toughest times of his young life.  Although he doesn’t attend YouthHope any longer, he still texts Heidi ‘Good Morning’ each day.

 

Bobby

We met this young man, “Bobby”, when we first began in 2009 and he was only 17 years old. Bobby had been in and out of boy’s homes and foster care homes since he was a young child. His father had been put in prison for life, and he was taken from his abusive mother by Child Protective Services. The first foster home Bobby was put into was the best place he could ever remember living. He was well cared for and was able to act like a normal kid. When his foster parents divorced, he was put back into a boy’s home and then another foster home where he was abused. He decided he was done with the system, and the abuse, so he ran away. Bobby was never able to finish his education, and he had a severe learning disability that went unnoticed. He turned to crime, and that is how he ended up in jail. Bobby has been in jail for the past nine months, and all he was allowed to do was work out. He was never able to complete his education, and when he was released all he was given was a monitoring device and the advice to “not screw up.” The only person who had ever been willing to help Bobby was Heidi, so he called and said he would like to get his life in order. He has no identification, no social security card, and no education. The process of trying to obtain these items for Bobby has been a difficult one to say the least. The only people that have ever offered help to this young man, beside YouthHope, have been the Redlands Police Department. With their help we are hoping we can receive his identification card and social security card. A major stumbling block for Bobby’s success has always been his learning disability. When we took him to the Yucaipa Adult School to be tested he did well in all the reading sections, but struggled with the math components. Bobby feels he cannot excel in an adult program because of his struggles with math, but in order to go back to high school he would have to go all day. If he attends school all day he will not be able to work, and therefore, will continue to sleep on the streets. This has been another problem for him, as he has a monitoring device that needs to be plugged in periodically. Since Bobby is sleeping on the streets, he does not have regular access to an outlet to plug in his device. If left uncharged he could get put back in jail for failing to meet his probation requirements. Bobby’s greatest fear is going back to jail, and ending up like his father. He wants to succeed, but he has never been given the tools for success. For YouthHope, it is like trying to teach a 2-year-old how to live an adult life. We are not sure that we can help Bobby achieve success, but we are going to try as hard as we can to help him.