Feature Story

Getting Back on the Right Path to a Bright Future

This is the story of John (name changed to protect privacy) and how your investment in Middle Earth changed his life. He lived in Franklin Township with his single mother and younger siblings. His father was incarcerated for a large part of his life. Growing up in poverty without a positive role model resulted in John making some poor decisions in his life. Although he was quite smart and really liked computers, he struggled at school with cutting class and misbehaving. After an altercation with police, he ended up on probation. His life was at a critical crossroads — was he going to tap into his potential or drift further into a life of delinquency?

When he was a junior in an alternative high school, John was referred by his probation officer to PROMISE, one of our employment readiness programs. When he started the program, our staff described him as a very sad kid because he didn’t feel like he had anything going for him. He couldn’t envision a positive future for himself. One of John’s goals was to go to college, but no one in his family had ever attended college, and he didn’t understand the application process. John was losing hope.

youth working on computerAs part of the PROMISE program, John received 8 hours of training from our staff in a work readiness curriculum, which includes lessons in setting goals, writing a resume, applying for a job, interviewing, and behaving properly on the job. He learned life skills that he felt were very valuable. As he continued through the program, our staff also helped him in other areas of his life. They mentored him to help him stay out of trouble, advocated for him to return to his public high school, and helped him complete all of the requirements of his Probation. With each step forward, John gained more hope. As he began to achieve goals that he thought we would never be able to complete, he felt happy and proud.

More and more, John began to feel that college was a real possibility for him, but he didn’t know how to make it happen. He often told staff that his mother would help him with the process, but in the end, she would always disappoint him. Our staff felt it was time to intervene. An important life lesson Middle Earth instills in our youth is taking responsibility. Our staff told John that he was an adult now and that he could apply to colleges himself without his mother’s help. Our staff provided John guidance so that he could fill out his FASFA, college application, and write his college essay.

We are proud to tell you that John is currently enrolled at Bloomfield College studying computer engineering. He feels very accomplished that he is the first person in his family to attend college, and he hopes he is inspiring his younger siblings. His dream job is to work in the field of cyber security. Whenever he is in the area, he stops by to check in with our staff and thank them for putting him on a path to success!

Every person needs a start for their success – someone who makes them feel worthy, someone who believes in them, someone who guides them on the right path. Middle Earth is that support network for youth. We step in and fill the void so that youth avoid risky behavior and realize they are capable of thoroughly succeeding in their life. Thank you for supporting us so that together we can help the next generation of youth to become responsible, productive citizens of our community.