I became a resident at Boys and Girls Country on August 15, 2011, when I was 16 years old. Before that, I lived in a lower middle-class neighborhood in the Spring Branch area. My dad was an overworked steel worker, and my mom worked at Sonic. During the 2008 financial crisis, my dad lost his job as a steel worker, and my family’s quality of life significantly trended downward. My parents ended up divorcing, and my dad was unable to sustain a steady stream of income. As a result, bills were late, rent was not paid, and we ended up struggling to eat daily. Both of my sisters moved away to live with their boyfriends while I struggled to find consistent housing, usually staying with friends. I continued to struggle to maintain a roof over my head until around early 2011 when I contacted my godmother, who had previously placed another child at Boys and Girls Country.
My first visit to Boys and Girls Country was a complete culture shock. There was a distinct look to the residence that made it seem like an extraordinary place to be. After meeting the staff, I walked into the cottage and fell asleep immediately. The following week I moved in and attended the first day of the school year. Not knowing anyone, one of the residents remembered meeting me during my initial visit and gave me a warm welcome by introducing me to everyone at school.
During my first three months, everyone was so welcoming and my days were filled with campus activities and extra curriculars. To this day, I still have a lot of close friends thanks to the camaraderie that was created during all the back to school events. The fondest memory I have from living at Boys and Girls Country would be competing in my first triathlon. I enjoyed the amount of training and discipline that was required, whether it be diet discipline or having to wake up at 5:00 a.m. over the summer to train. The day of the event was rewarding because all the late nights, early mornings, and hard work put into my training paid off as I placed 4th in my age group.
I would say there are three people who have had a lasting impression (and still do) on my life from Boys and Girls Country. The first two are my houseparents, Mr. and Mrs. Stuckey, who taught me what it was like to have loving parents who were fair, impartial and willing to endure early mornings for cross country practice and late nights. They are the epitome of what I imagined a parent would be. They have given me life changing guidance while allowing me to fail in a controlled setting. They gave me a hard work ethic and have, in a nutshell, refined what my strengths and weaknesses were into something that I can apply in a real-world job. My current success is a direct reflection of their passion.
The third person would be one of the board members, Mr. Steve Stephens, who has continued to be a part of my life. We have regular conversations during which he imparts his thoughts and recommendations on how to approach personal growth and work problems. He is always willing to open his schedule to offer genuine guidance and has opened his home and family to me. He has been a stellar mentor.
My time at Boys and Girls Country was transformative. I had zero guidance or direction beforehand. I look back and can state unequivocally that if I did not join Boys and Girls Country I would still be on the streets of Houston or in jail. I have decided to not let the skills and life lessons I learned at Boys and Girls Country go to waste. I have a second start at life, and I have worked to ensure that I achieve what Boys and Girls Country offers to every resident, the opportunity to become a contributing member of society.
Because of my desire to take on a job with a significant number of challenges with the gratification of improvement and promotion, I commissioned in the United States Army April 30th, 2021, and I am currently a Company Executive Officer.
I am consistently reevaluating myself to implement the morals and ethics I learned at Boys and Girls Country along with the skills that I have learned as a Commissioned Officer in the United States Army. I want to help as many kids as possible fulfill their potential in life through mentoring. I also want to ensure that my future kids don’t go through the same adversity I went through and teach them the life lessons that I have learned, thus allowing them to have an easier start on life.