As a kid, I always thought of myself as one of the bad ones. I hung with the wrong friends and started making bad choices like stealing from my Mom and Dad. Whenever I got caught, my friends turned on me and I soon found myself in juvenile jail. It was there I came to the conclusion that there wasn’t anybody on this earth I could trust. Being in jail sure wasn’t the best life. Day in and day out it seemed I just sat there, and my attitude was all about doing what I wanted to do. Jail didn’t change that.
When I first went to Generations, I felt it was a stupid place. I remember thinking that I’d rather go back to Birchwood and do nothing then stay at there. My attitude was finally changed by my staff and peers. When I spoke, there was always someone who would listen, and that all the things going on were for my own good. I started building real relationships, something I never had at home, and I began to understand what trust really meant.
I hate admitting it now, but when I saw my first volunteer group I didn’t want anything to do with them. I tried to figure out their angle for being there. What changed my mind was when a church group was out to play corn hole and just have fun. They talked to us like they really cared, and I saw one of them tear up when all of us said thank you and how much we appreciated them. That was powerful to realize that they were there simply to make a difference in our lives.
I was at Generations for seven months and still working toward my level 2. My peers and my staff were on me all the time and I was like – leave me alone! They didn’t give up, but still when I went for my level 2, I didn’t get it. I was discouraged, but my staff kept me moving forward by continuing to highlight daily what I was doing well. I started writing down those good things, but also the negative things about me. Those good things would motivate me while at the same time I would focus on working on proving those negative things weren’t really me, and I did a complete turnaround!
When got my Level 3 and then reached my Level 4 I realized I had what was needed to graduate . . . and that put a BIG circle of a smile on my face. Graduation took me through a roadblock in my life, and I knew nothing would hold me back going forward! My whole entire life has been transformed completely. Before, when I looked into the future I saw nothing. Now I feel like things are in place for me as I continue doing all I need to do for my bright future. I am keeping my grades up and plan to attend Alabama and play football there. I dream of playing professional football, but while I’m dreaming I will get my degree to become an Athletic Trainer.
I want people to know that trust at Generations has played a huge role in my success. Staff earned my trust by showing me they really cared, and I earned their trust by working hard. I don’t know if it hits all the residents, but I learned Generations’ program is definitely set up where each resident can get the individual help he needs to graduate. It is great, and I know I wouldn’t be the person I am today without it. For that fact alone, Generations has been a real blessing for me.