We sat down with Joey a few weeks ago to learn more about how our mentoring programs are helping young adults. Here’s what we learned from him:
I’m 18 years old and live in the City of Poughkeepsie on Mansion Street with my aunt. I’ve had a tough time in school from the very beginning. I had what they call “developmental delays” when I was little, but they didn’t realize it until I was in middle school. They just thought I wasn’t smart.
When I was 10 my mother died. I still really miss her. My dad is really tough. He kicked me out when I was 13. That’s how I wound up living with my Aunt Mary. She’s kind of tough, but she gives me a place to stay.
It’s my senior year. I decided I wanted to finish my high school education as I heard it’s much harder if you drop out. I also started going to the Teen Resource Activity Center (TRAC) after school.
When I was off from school, I started hanging with some kids on my block. They’re into some bad stuff. I got in a fight with one guy and didn’t realize he had a knife. I got stabbed.
I got into trouble and the cops told me if I didn’t pay $500, I was going to jail. Right then, I just wanted to go to jail to take a break from it all. But I told one of the coaches at TRAC and he didn’t agree – at all. He called my dad. I hadn’t spoken to him in a long time, but he paid the $500 for me.
After that I realized if I kept doing what I was doing, I might go away for a while or maybe I’d get really hurt if I kept getting in fights. I didn’t want to die and I was getting scared. My coach at TRAC really sat down and talked to me about all this and we decided there was another option for me.
We found a program out of Poughkeepsie that helps kids like me with education and vocational skills called Job Corps. I went for it and was accepted. I’ve been in the program for a few months. My coach from TRAC still calls me every week. I’m so glad someone was there to help.
Your donations provided this chance for Joey and for many other teens to escape tough street life and find another path. United Way supports TRAC and 47 other programs this year in Dutchess and Orange Counties.