Let me begin by saying that I’m fully aware that I am responsible for the choices I’ve made, and I’m not sharing my story because I want sympathy. I’m sharing because I believe that when we take the time to learn one another’s stories, we understand each other better, and this makes our world a better place.
I spent most of my childhood in foster care. I was often locked in a room by myself, and most would say that I suffered mental and emotional neglect as a young child. Without a good support system, I really struggled to fit in as a teenager. I often felt like I didn’t fit in and that I wasn’t wanted. School was really challenging for me, and my grades were often well below average.
Eventually, I was adopted out of the foster care system, but it would take a while before I learned to receive love when it is given. Because of my insecurities and struggles in school, I was easily influenced to explore the street-life. I became involved with the wrong people and activities.
One day I got in a fight with my mother who adopted me, and I let anger take control. I poured gasoline all over the house and was going to set it on fire. I’m thankful I was stopped before I could burn it down. I was arrested and placed into South Carolina’s Shock Incarceration Program. This intentional, 90-day program stresses the development of personal responsibility and helps young offenders prepare for reintegration into the community.
Upon my release from incarceration, I was able to join JUMPSTART’s transitional program.
I knew that a door of opportunity was being opened for me, and I owed it to myself, the family who adopted me, and those who make JUMPSTART possible, to give it my all. I want to live up to my potential.
I am now 20 years old, and I am doing better now than I ever have before. I’m proud to have the opportunity to work hard at Cracker Barrel. I have fun on a basketball team, and I’m part of a church family where I get the privilege of serving on the praise team.
I know God did not create me to be neglected or forgotten. He didn’t create me to be a curse to the community as I was in the past, but to be a blessing. I was uniquely molded and shaped by God for a purpose, and I am giving my best to see God’s purpose fulfilled in my life. I’m thankful for everyone who helps make second chances possible.