This story comes courtesy of Madelyn Keith, executive director of East Arkansas Youth Services, Inc. Names and images have been changed to protect privacy.
Brian never knew his mother, who tragically passed away during his birth. He was raised by his maternal grandmother, who also passed away before he reached his sixteenth birthday.
The lack of stability in his home life began to manifest itself in his behavior at school, where he openly rebelled against his teachers. In a short time, he dropped out of school completely and had trouble with the police. Soon, he was placed in a juvenile detention center for teenagers. His life was spinning out of control.
Despite his feelings about school, Brian’s short time on his own showed him the importance of having a General Equivalency Degree (GED) so he could find work. He was referred to a United Way network partner agency to help him get his GED.
“Brian was placed in an offender program, and it was through that program that he earned his GED,” an agency counselor reported.
The agency counselor remembers Brian’s GED graduation like it was yesterday.
“It was on a Friday night and I took his family to see him,” she said. “He was so proud that he got his GED and was going to make something of himself. After graduation, we helped him obtain a scholarship and he went to start college classes the next fall.”
Brian was able to find a job thanks to his GED, and he worked while attending college. During the day he went to classes and in the afternoons and early evenings, he put in hours working at a local truck wash. His eighteenth birthday passed without any incidents of trouble. The agency counselor sees Brian now and then, and he always remembers the second chance he received thanks to the agency’s help.
“We are so grateful that we were there to get him on the right track,” she said. “He was the first member of his family to go to college. I do not think they fully understand the importance of his work to get a college degree yet.”
Your support of United Way’s network makes a difference for people like Brian every day, changing lives for the better and helping people become more self-sufficient members of our community.