The parents of a young man, who graduated recently, sent us a note. Their words are evidence of the hope and life your giving brings.
“It is very difficult to adequately describe the trauma – the utter despair and helplessness – we felt watching our smart, funny and loving son seemingly plummet into a dark abyss. It happened right before our eyes as we tried, unsuccessfully, to stop his self-destructive behavior.
With Jesse sitting in a youth detention center for the second time, facing a string of what might be termed petty charges, and the possibility of a lengthy incarceration, we were frightened and frustrated. Convinced that the positive change we desired for our son was not possible in a state run detention center, we searched continuously for an alternative. A chance conversation with a friend led us to the Paul Anderson Youth Home. Donald Connor answered the phone on the day we called and talked with us for several hours, answering our questions and addressing our concerns. On June 10, 2013, backed by a court order, we transported Jesse from the Augusta Youth Detention Center to the Paul Anderson Youth Home. Driving away from our seventeen year old boy, that very first day, was as hard a thing as we have ever done. It was, also, the smartest and bravest thing we have ever done.
The Paul Anderson Youth Home offered a nurturing, caring and disciplined environment for our son. It also offered tremendous support to our family as we worked to rebuild our relationship with him. To be sure, Jesse did not immediately respond to the PAYH teaching of God, others and self. He also failed, initially, to appreciate the philosophy of hard work, education and physical health as a means to overall wellbeing. There were many ups and downs throughout his time, and there were days when he pushed the limits and faced expulsion from the program. Thankfully, the counselors and staff continued to believe in Jesse, even when Jesse did not believe in himself.
A heart to heart conversation with a staff member, about nine months into the program, was a turning point for Jesse as he finally started to understand his role in the world – that respect for others was vital to developing respect for oneself. Following this breakthrough, we began to see a bright-eyed, smart and engaging boy we recognized. His self-confidence grew and he started making plans for his future.
Jesse’s transformation has been nothing short of a life that’s been saved. The troubled boy we delivered to the PAYH eighteen months ago is maturing into the young man we had long ago envisioned. He is poised to live the purposeful, fulfilling life we had dreamed for him. Yes, change starts with one. And, when that one is your own precious child, your own fractured family, your own hopes and dreams; it is simply not possible to express with words the breadth of our gratitude.”
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