Hope for Homeless Teens

Teenage boy with peace sign

He didn’t ask for a tough life, but he did ask for help.

“I started getting into trouble when I was about 12,” said Justin. “I wasn’t going to school. I wasn’t listening to parents which ended me up in court and then ended me up in a residential program in Massachusetts. I stepped down to a group home and then finally I went home to my mom. A week later my mom kicked me out. Then I went to my uncle’s house and graduated from high school.”

That is when Justin was referred by a Department of Children and Families social worker to our Independent Living Program. He had been in and out of his home and different residential programs and needed help to transition to living on his own. The program assists adolescents (16 years of age and older) to develop a high level of self-sufficiency as they move from dependent to independent living.

“And that’s when I met Bryan and we started talking and it’s been just a positive experience,” said Justin. “He motivated me to find a job.”

“We made a strong connection right away,” said Bryan Block, the director of our Independent Living Program. “Justin wanted to go to school. He wanted to do counseling. He wanted to find a job. He was out there searching for jobs not only with me but on his own. Whatever he set his mind to—he’s absolutely been able to do.”

“The value of being in the Independent Living Program is just phenomenal,” said Justin.  “It helps you get ready. And some parents can’t help you with how to live on your own and the reality of it to be honest. And doing it is much better than having somebody explain it to you. Without the ILP, I think I would be doing nothing with my life. Nobody in my family has ever even graduated from high school.”

“I have high hopes for Justin. I expect him to graduate with a certification in electrical from Porter and Chester,” said Bryan. “I feel strongly about him and I hope I can be in his life after graduation and be a resource for him for years to come. He has a great heart. You know that he means well and he’s always moving forward. He’s always focused on the future--and a positive future.”