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Young black man smiling against white background

A personal story told by former Promise House client, Raymond*

“When you were 10 years old, were you ready to be on your own?

If something were to happen to you today, would your sons and daughters be taken care of?

Because when I was 10 years old, my mom passed away and I have never really known my father. My brothers and sisters and I were left to fend for ourselves.

We lived on our own for a while in our mother’s house until a family member decided to take us in. But this situation was never perfect. We moved from house to house and I really never had a place to call home and never had the chance to play basketball or other sports, things I would enjoy. Without anyone to raise me, there were a lot of things that I never learned. I got into a lot of trouble and even had a stay in juvie.

Then I was sent to Dallas to live with my oldest brother. But, he was never really there for me and I was barely going to school. I had a lot of misplaced anger at my situation because I knew I deserved a better life.

When I turned 18, my brother kicked me out to face the world alone even though I had not even graduated from high school. Some nights, I slept on a friend’s couch. Other nights, I slept outside in a park where I wouldn’t be seen. And some nights, I rode the bus all night long, trying to sleep when I could.

Is this the life my mother wanted for me? Is this what it had come to?

This is when I found Promise House and entered the Transitional Living Program. On my first day, I felt very out of place because the TLP house parent asked me how my day was. This was the first time in a long time that I had been asked this question. It was the first time in a long time that anyone had cared enough to be interested in me. Even something so small as asking me this question made such a difference. And I knew I had found a place I could belong.

For the past year, I have been working hard to turn my life around. In May, I graduated high school with the help of Promise House. I have learned to be more independent by attending classes to help me budget my time and money, to form healthy relationships, and to take care of myself.

I see a few who take advantage of their time at Promise House, who don’t truly understand why they are here. But I know this is a gift, a blessing that I’ve been given and I never want to take it for granted. If I didn’t have Promise House in my life, I would probably still be on the streets. I am sure that I would be drinking and doing drugs like so many others I know. But I grew up with a conscience. And Promise House has helped me to stay true to my conscience.

I want to learn as much as I can, because I am excited and happy that my life will not turn out bad. This next spring, I will attend classes at a four year university where I will begin my path to becoming a film maker.

I now have a direction and purpose.

This was only made possible because of the generous support of people like you. Your gifts to Promise House make it possible for people like me to change directions and not become just another statistic. You give us a second chance, or in most cases, give us the only chance we have ever had.

My name is Raymond*, and Promise House was my turning point. And I know my mother would be proud.

Will Promise House be the turning point for other teens like me?

That is up to you.”

*Name and picture changed to protect client privacy.