Click on any picture below to read another of our success stories.
When you were 10 years old, were you ready to be on your own?
If something were to happen to you today, would your sons and daughters be taken care of?
Because when I was 10 years old, my mom passed away and I have never really known my father. My brothers and sisters and I were left to fend for ourselves.
We lived on our own for a while in our mother's house until a family member decided to take us in. But this situation was never perfect. We moved from house to house and I really never had a place to call home and never had the chance to play basketball or other sports, things I would enjoy. Without anyone to raise me, there were a lot of things that I never learned. I got into a lot of trouble and even had a stay in juvie.
Then I was sent to Dallas to live with my oldest brother. But, he was never really there for me and I was barely going to school. I had a lot of misplaced anger at my situation because I knew I deserved a better life.
When I turned 18, my brother kicked me out to face the world alone even though I had not even graduated from high school. Some nights, I slept on a friend's couch. Other nights, I slept outside in a park where I wouldn’t be seen. And some nights, I rode the bus all night long, trying to sleep when I could.
Is this the life my mother wanted for me? Is this what it had come to?
This is when I found Promise House and entered the Transitional Living Program. On my first day, I felt very out of place because the TLP house parent asked me how my day was. This was the first time in a long time that I had been asked this question. It was the first time in a long time that anyone had cared enough to be interested in me. Even something so small as asking me this question made such a difference. And I knew I had found a place I could belong.
For the past year, I have been working hard to turn my life around. In May, I graduated high school with the help of Promise House. I have learned to be more independent by attending classes to help me budget my time and money, to form healthy relationships, and to take care of myself.
I see a few who take advantage of their time at Promise House, who don't truly understand why they are here. But I know this is a gift, a blessing that I’ve been given and I never want to take it for granted. If I didn't have Promise House in my life, I would probably still be on the streets. I am sure that I would be drinking and doing drugs like so many others I know. But I grew up with a conscious. And Promise House has helped me to stay true to my conscious.
I want to learn as much as I can, because I am excited and happy that my life will not turn out bad. This next spring, I will attend classes at Mountain View College where I will begin my path of becoming a film maker.
I now have a direction and purpose.
This was only made possible because of the generous support of people like you. Your gifts to Promise House make it possible for people like me to change directions and not become just another statistic. You give us a second chance, or in most cases, give us the only chance we have ever had.
My name is Ryan, and Promise House was my turning point. And I know my mother would be proud.
Will Promise House be the turning point for other teens like me?
Seth’s life has never been easy. Abandoned at birth by his mother, he grew up in the foster care system from infancy. But at age eight, life took a different turn for Seth as he was adopted by a permanent family. Being a success of the foster care and adoption systems seems like it would be the end of the story, where Seth would live happily ever after.
However, in his early teens, Seth came to realize that he was gay. Try as he might to hide this from his adoptive parents, they found out when they overheard one of his phone conversations with a friend. Not knowing how to handle the situation, the family had reached a crisis point.
Seth described the months after coming out as difficult. He felt alone and isolated as his parents attempted to grasp the reality of the situation. After one conversation with his father and uncle, he knew that for his own well-being that it was time to leave. Seth made the decision to run away from home and began sofa surfing in friends’ homes.
This is when Seth learned about Promise House, and he enrolled in the Emergency Youth Shelter Program. “Coming to Promise House has been an adventure,” Seth said. “I have learned how to be more reliant on myself and be more of an adult.”
In addition to the basic necessities of living, Seth was given the tools and counseling he needed to cope with the feelings of abandonment that he felt not only from his birth mother, but also from his adoptive parents. “I tried to not care,” he said. “But, that is really hard to do.” Through his own maturation, Seth has begun to rebuild the relationship with his adoptive family, although he knows it is a process that will take time.
Seth’s main goal right now is to graduate high school and go to college at Texas A&M. He wants to become a veterinarian. However, a new talent emerged and was discovered while he was at Promise House that many suggest should be considered as a possible career path. He has a talent for cooking.
On the weekends, when the staff cook was not at the shelter, Seth took on the role to the delight of the other shelter residents. He focused on healthy cooking and admitted that breakfast was his favorite meal to cook. “I like making smoothies,” he said. “But, I don’t usually follow a recipe because I like to mix the flavors until they all come together. I use fresh vegetables in all the smoothies, but the other residents don’t even realize it because they taste so good.”
His creativity extends beyond the kitchen as well, and recently Seth recited one of his many poems at the shelter’s open mic night. He uses his poetry as an emotional release to cope with the struggles in his life. “My hardships have shaped me into who I am,” he said. “And I am proud of who I am.”
With this kind of attitude, Promise House is proud to have Seth as one of our promising teens with a promising future.
I’m looking at it but yet cannot see it,
Touching it but yet cannot feel it,
It’s right under my nose but yet I cannot smell it.
It’s there but yet is not there
I know what it looks like, yet how would I know, I cannot see it.
I know what it feels like, yet how would I know, I cannot feel it.
I know what it smells like, yet how would I know, I cannot smell it.
Want to know how I know what it looks like?
I’ve seen it.
Want to know how I know what it feels like?
I’ve felt it.
Want to know how I know what it smells like?
I’ve smelled it.
Though I wish I could use present tense, I cannot.
Though I know what it looks like, I cannot see it anymore.
Though I know what is feels like, I cannot feel it anymore.
And though I know what it smells like, I cannot smell it anymore.
Once upon a time, the only way I can put it.
The senses I once had, gone.
What’s there to live for?
The hope of one day receiving my senses back.
Until then, I will reside in this cold numb body of mine.
Hoping that one day I will be freed, able to experience the joy of love once again.
But until then, I will steadily peer into what seems to be love
At 18 years old, Courtney and her son, Kameron, came to Promise House with few options.
After finding out she was pregnant with her second child, Courtney was kicked out of her home and left to make her way in life on her own. She sofa surfed for a few weeks with relatives before finding Promise House.
Courtney and Kameron became residents at Wesley Inn, the group home for pregnant and parenting teen mothers and their children. Not knowing what to expect, she was excited to find a place that allowed her and her child to stay together.
Courtney adapted well to the structured schedule at Wesley Inn, but admits it was a change from home.
“The staff was nice, but stuck firmly to the rules. It was different than what I was used to,” she recalls. “It was hard at first, but ended up being for the better in the long run.”
The programs offered at Wesley Inn helped to teach Courtney the skills necessary to raise her children.
After almost three months at Wesley Inn, Courtney and her son Kameron were able to move into the Transitional Living Program, which is part of the complete circle of support available at Promise House.
She and Kameron are now living in their own apartment. Courtney still attends weekly counseling sessions and parenting classes as part of her participation in the Transitional Living Program.
Dedicated to bettering herself, Courtney secured free day care through a Promise House partnership with Vogel Alcove allowing her to pursue her education. She is now attending El Centro College with plans to become a registered nurse.
Anxiously awaiting the birth of Kameron’s younger brother, Courtney has a bright outlook for the future.
Promise House is proud of her progress and happy to have her as one of our promising teens with a promising future.
Tamika entered the Emergency Youth Shelter in May 2008. She came in with a cheerful spirit, although she was in a difficult situation.
Immediately, she jumped in, helping staff members and other residents in the program. Tamika quickly adapted to the structure of the program and soon became the voice for her peers. As a result, she was twice voted peer leader by her fellow residents.
Tamika actively participated in counseling, family counseling and the summer program groups. After leaving the shelter, Tamika moved into the Transitional Living Program of Promise House.
She continues to do well and is currently attending Duncanville High School and has a part-time job.
Like Tamika, David also came to the Emergency Youth Shelter early this past summer. Agreeing to make positive changes in his life and become a better person, he began the program.
Through the Promise House programs, David was able to change his life. Even after his stay in the shelter, David continued in the Services To At-Risk Youth (STAR) program. He regularly attended counseling and continued to improve and achieve his goals.
He is now actively involved in his church and participating in the youth group. Most recently, David was accepted to the People to People Student Ambassador Program.
Because of their high level of success in multiple Promise House programs, both Tamika and David were recipients of the Outstanding Youth Awards presented at the annual Promise House Thanksgiving banquet.
Patricia is a happy, loving mother of five. And while Patricia’s life has not always been perfect, it has always been her goal to provide a better life for her children than the one she was given.
Growing up, Patricia says when she was punished, it usually was with loud screaming or physical, sometimes violent acts. As she raised her kids, these same methods of dealing with problems were the only way she knew how to handle behavioral issues. These methods became a problem when her daughter, Lucia, turned 15 years old and started hanging out with the wrong crowd at school.
Lucia had always been a good student, but her grades started to slip. Her communication with her mother had become almost non-existent. Then, Patricia caught her daughter skipping school. Patricia watched as the influence of others caused her goal of providing a better life for her children slip away. This made Patricia angry and in a heated phone conversation told Lucia to come home immediately. Lucia feared the worst and instead of coming home, she ran away.
Patricia waited by the phone for any word that her daughter was alright. Even though Lucia was only gone for one day, the agony of those 24 hours was too much for Patricia to bear. She knew that she and Lucia needed help to get past the problems they were having.
Patricia and Lucia sought the help of the STAR Program of Promise House. The STAR Program intervenes when families are in crisis to ensure a healthy home environment. By placing a priority on supporting and strengthening families, the family receives short-term crisis counseling in an effort to work together to resolve difficult situations.
Lucia started individual counseling while Patricia attended parenting classes. They also attended family counseling together, along with Lucia’s younger brother and sisters who were also affected by the conflict between Patricia and Lucia.
As a result of their time in the STAR Program, Patricia has seen a transition in Lucia from a girl who hated school to a young woman with direction and dedication who wants to attend college to become a lawyer.
Patricia also has changed. She has learned to set boundaries with her children where she can still be their mother and their friend. In addition, she has learned communication practices that are nonthreatening and facilitate open dialogue. She has started using positive reinforcement as well as a discipline system that has broken the negative cycle of raised voices and a hard hand.
Patricia still has many hopes and dreams for Lucia. She wants her to grow up to become an elegant career-minded woman who helps others in need. But above all, she still wants what any parent wants – to provide a better life for her children than the one she was given. With the help given to her by the STAR Program of Promise House, she is confident she can provide this dream to all of her children.
Meet Jasmine. Just this past month, she turned 18. Pictured with her is 1-year-old Makayla and 1-month-old Jordan, Jasmine’s two children.
Jasmine’s life has not been ideal. At 16, she found out she was pregnant with her daughter. She was living with her mother who was there for her and was her support system during her pregnancy. Even though becoming pregnant at 16 up heaved Jasmine’s life, nothing could prepare her the tragedy that would strike next.
When her daughter was only 2 months old, Jasmine’s mother suddenly passed away. The relationship between grandmother and granddaughter that was just forming, now would never be. Even though Jasmine was working, she could not earn enough money to stay where she was living while caring for a newborn. The tragedy of losing her support system thrust Jasmine into homelessness and she and Makayla began sofa surfing.
They traveled from place to place staying where they could until they ended up at Makayla’s paternal grandmother’s home. After dropping out of high school, Jasmine worked two jobs to make ends meet. She at least had some help raising her daughter from her ex-boyfriend’s mother. The decision to live here, which was made out of desperation, would only lead to yet another upheaval.
Being around Makayla’s father again led to another pregnancy. By the time she found out she was pregnant, the father had moved on and Jasmine was forced to leave the house where she had been living. Still rearing one infant with another on the way, she found herself sofa surfing yet again.
She ended up in her third home since her mother died, but soon realized the living arrangement had become dangerous because the people she was living with were using drugs. Resilient determination led to a choice to leave this environment.
“My little girl didn’t need to grow up around that,” she said.
After living in four homes in under a year, Jasmine found hope. At four months pregnant, she moved into Wesley Inn, the group home for pregnant and parenting teen moms at Promise House. After navigating the tumultuous seas of her life, she had finally found the calm in the storm.
In this healthier environment, Jasmine has thrived. Since education is a major theme of Promise House, her case manager worked with her to enroll in GED classes. Bright and energetic, Jasmine earned her GED in no time at all. Even though she never saw herself going to college, soon after earning her GED she enrolled in El Centro Community College where she is currently studying to earn an associate’s degree in surgical technology.
Five months after arriving at Promise House, Wesley Inn welcomed the birth of Jasmine’s son, who she named Jordan.
Through extensive counseling that is provided to all Promise House teens, Jasmine has learned to deal with issues of anger and resentment toward her family, which is leading to healed relationships with them. The counseling, in combination with parenting classes, has helped her redefine her view of family from one where she was a child in a family to one where she is an adult taking care of a family.
“Before I had my children, I never saw myself having kids,” she said. “But now, I have no regrets what so ever.”
“Jasmine is an excellent mother,” said Doris Sweeney, manager of the Wesley Inn Program. “She has truly come to grips with what it means to take care of her own family. She has been above average in every way.”
Jasmine is ready for whatever the future holds and is ready to see beyond the decisions she made to bring her to this point in her life. Soon she will be moving out of the Wesley Inn Program and into the Transitional Living Program of Promise House. In this program, she will live more independently in her own apartment while still caring for Makayla and Jordan. She will be expected to maintain her educational enrollment and attend counseling and parenting classes to continue her personal development.
Her goals in life have changed dramatically since she came to Promise House, yet remain pure in their simplicity. She wants to pursue higher education further in order to have a good job. Then, when she can, she wants to buy her own car and buy a house in a nice neighborhood. Above all, she hopes to be a good mother to Makayla and Jordan.
“People look down at teen moms and judge us,” she said. “I just want them to know that we are not who they think we are. But it does make us stronger because we have children.”
Jasmine also dreams of being an inspiration to other girls who find themselves in her situation. Her advice to them is straightforward: “Love yourself and your children. Make the best of your situation and don’t let anyone distract you from reaching the goals you set for yourself.”
With an attitude like this, Promise House is proud to have Jasmine and her family as one of our promising teens with a promising future!
Dorothy moved through the foster care system in Arkansas before being placed with a relative in Dallas. At 18, when her relative no longer received money from the foster care system, they decided to no longer care for Dorothy. She started staying with friends and began having problems in school. "I just needed someone to be checking on me to see if I was OK, like a parent would," she said. "I didn't have anyone like that." After her high school basketball coach found her sleeping and living in the school gymnasium, Dorothy was referred to Promise House. At the age of 18, having run out of options, she entered the Promise House Transitional Living Program.
"When I first started the Transitional Living Program I thought it would be hard. But then I realized that all of the rules are things that a responsible person would do in everyday life," she said. Dorothy began the program in a group home, then moved to her own apartment in the next phase of the program.
While in the program, Dorothy had the privilege of meeting Oprah Winfrey, who honored Promise House with an Angel Network award in conjunction with the “Live Your Best Life” tour. This inspirational experience, along with a more secure home environment and the support of caring staff members, gave Dorothy a "normal" life and helped her to focus on school. Dorothy graduated high school in the top 20 percent of her class and was captain of the basketball team. "I didn't have a parent's support, but if I messed up in TLP, Promise House was there to help me like a parent would," she affirms. "There wasn't too much pressure on me all at once to be on my own. I knew I had to clean up, take care of myself, get to class on my own. It helped instill self control and responsibility in my life."
Dorothy's case workers at Promise House introduced her to the idea of college. "I didn’t think it was for people like me," she admits. Dorothy is now in her third year of college, studying to be a nurse. As a recipient of the Blake Davis Memorial Scholarship Fund of Promise House, this bright, young woman has been able to flourish in college.
"When I think of Promise House, I think of a better way of life. I was afraid of what people would think, embarrassed to ask for help. But if it weren’t for Promise House, I am 100 percent sure I wouldn’t be in college— I might not be living at all today. It is one of the best things that could ever have happened for me."