This teen is a person we have known for a few years and was one of the youths who was a teen advocate on the Teen Panel at our “Establish The Vision” fundraiser featuring Stedman Graham in November 2012. We have been speaking truth and wisdom to this young man for several years. When things were tough at home he would often ask Jan and me, “could I hang with you guys and spend the night”, and of course he would – sometimes the whole weekend. As tensions increased at home between him and his mom and her “being fed up with him”, she kicked him out and he found himself on the streets, alone, during a cold winter night in February 2013. He called me (Marvin).
This teen was not a “bad” kid yet, – just “lost” and on the road to self-destruction, fast. He had just turned 18 and had no chance of graduating from high school this year. He was so far behind in so many credits that he felt he was doomed to never graduate. There was no father in the home. He came to our home exhibiting depression, hopelessness, confusion, anger, addiction to X-box, and an extremely poor attitude toward any kind of work, physical or mental. He had a bad attitude toward himself and school. He had a lot of wounds within his soul and spirit regarding some personal and familial relationships.
Jan and I got right to work implementing our program, reconstructing it to his specific needs. We are currently so pleased with him because, in the year that he has been with us, he secured his very first part-time job by himself and has received a raise and a letter of reference. He’s discovered that he is intelligent and is capable of doing “A” work and has done so. He is currently only 2 credits away from graduating with a standard high school diploma.
He has begun to embrace the skills to problem-solve on his own. He’s learning how to cook and is learning about healthy eating. Although he would prefer his old-home habits which were to pop his dinner in the microwave oven from a can or freezer package, he sure likes the taste of home-cooked meals. With Jan and Marv’s help, he has mastered some of the basic cooking skills needed to pull together some great meals.
Marv has spent endless hours with this young man, coaching him, mentoring him, and helping with homework. He’s taught him how to keep his room clean and do his own laundry. He has weekly chores and he’s expected to clean up after himself. He hates the effort all of this success requires, still preferring his default method of “just hanging and having fun”, but he’s beginning to really enjoy the results. Whew! He enjoys Church and his activities with Youth First, doing a daily devotional with Marv and talking and visiting with Jan, asking questions about the Bible, history, seeking wisdom and knowledge, and verifying what he thinks he already knows. It’s precious times in the home. We’ve seen that he gets medical and dental care when needed. We’ve helped supplement his school wardrobe and made sure he is warm. Marv taught him to drive and helped him pass his written test. His driving exam is just around the corner.
His immediate goal is to graduate from high school (this May). He has decided to join the military as soon as possible after graduation. His preference is the Coast Guard or Navy. In his own words, he wants to be a “real man”, a “Godly man” and he wants to be a “hero”. As we watch him, we see that he has a bend toward being a natural leader and nurturer of others. He has begun to influence others for their good. We have duplicated our SNTR efforts, and we now have a mini-SNTR-er. Some of his friends see the change in him and want what he has. His friends are becoming comfortable asking us for help.
We have watched this young man learn to overcome failure and disappointment. His attitude about God, life, himself, and others has changed. Needless to say, it’s been our joy, pleasure, and privilege to have this young man enter our lives, our transition home, and our hearts. We are pleased to see the program work.
Of note: This young man donated over 400 hours of his time and energies in the summer of 2013 to the development of the Ranch-land property, believing in what SNTR is all about. He willingly worked the entire summer digging fence posts, running fence lines, digging irrigation ditches, and building brick walls. He had no idea he was even capable of working that hard and he eventually developed great endurance both physically and mentally for that type of work. He said that he would have quit early on if he had not been working side-by-side with Marv, who showed no signs of quitting, and he was not going to let a 60-year-old outdo him!
What a blessing to us and to all of you for your donations which allowed this young man his experiences with SNTR.