I had been in and out of the juvenile justice system ever since I was 14, by the time I turned 17, in 2007, I was already acquainted with the entire lived-in process. I was summoned to appear in court as it was claimed that I had threatened to “kill” my family. Despite the fact that the charges were dismissed, my parents gave up their paternal rights and placed me in EmberHope Youthville so that I could finish out the rest of my teenage years there. I was distraught when I realized for the first time that my family had given up on me. I came to EmberHope Youthville completely alone.

former emberhope youthville resident becomes employee who helps youth

My peers and I found ourselves temporarily housed at the Monroe cottage when there was no other housing option that was appropriate for us. The staff team was made up of both male and female fellow millennials. Because I was an adolescent at the time, it took some time for me to develop an appreciation for the fact that assistance was readily available. On the other hand, I will never forget how grateful I am to the members of the staff who served as my mentors.  If there are any previous members of staff here, I would like to take this opportunity to thank each one of them. I was not the best example of a well-behaved child because I mistakenly believed that I was almost an adult and was therefore entitled to a degree of validation that neither the case workers nor the employees nor I was able to provide. As a result, I did not behave as well as other children should have. It took me sixteen years to get back to EmberHope Youthville, but now that I’m back, I can attest to the indelible mark that it made on me. As a child, I engaged in power struggles with members of the staff. Now that I’m an adult and working as a Peer Youth Advocate, I can reflect on how members of the staff gave me learning opportunities through various groups and activities that I still use today.

To the clients we serve now, take it from someone who has been in your position, any client who is presently residing here: your time here is valuable, and the employees acknowledge that you are here, they want to see you succeed. I was going down a path that would eventually lead me nowhere, but I’m happy to say that I was able to change things around and that I’m now doing well. The disadvantage is that you don’t know what’s going to happen to you in the next stage of your life, but if you can take the skills you’ve picked up in groups and the positive relationships you’ve built with your peers and implement all of this outside of the system, your progress will be visible.