Mercy Home Gives Miguel the Chance to Begin Again
After years of homelessness, one young man’s inspiring story begins at Mercy Home
Slowly, Miguel stepped towards the glistening shores of Lake Michigan and his favorite bench along the coastline. Behind him, the bright lights of Chicago’s downtown burned like stars, displaying his favorite view of the city. Miguel often came to this spot after school. To think. To reflect. But on this particular night, he came to discover. Nervously, he unfolded an envelope from his pocket. A college admissions decision letter laid in his hand.
“I remember sitting by the lake that night,” Miguel remembers, “and I was just praying for an acceptance.”
I knew that to make my mom proud, my life had to change.
Before Mercy Home, Miguel’s life was anything but stable. He lived with his mother and five siblings as they bounced from home to home, and from shelter to shelter. Miguel never knew his father – he never had a father figure in his life.
Because of his hardships, Miguel’s life almost took a different path entirely. He had joined a local gang in his neighborhood at the age of 13 and tagged along for different crimes that included carjackings and armed robberies.
In school one day, Miguel’s rage led him to overturn tables and flee from the classroom before he was corralled into the principal’s office. His mother was called. And as she sat before her son, she burst into tears.
“I knew, then, that I had let her down. I felt awful,” Miguel said. “I knew that to make my mom proud, my life had to change.”
She told the principal about their family’s dire situation. As the trio sat in silence, the principal had an idea in mind. That idea was Mercy Home for Boys & Girls.
After moving into Mercy Home, Miguel was forced to leave his former life behind. In therapy, he was guided in techniques to help control the intense emotions he’d bottled up for so long. He was taught to reflect before making impulsive decisions. That need for reflection is what led him, regularly, to his favorite spot along the lake.
At Mercy Home, he was able to talk about the trauma that being homeless and fatherless had caused him. Soon, Miguel found new friends and a new outlook on his life’s journey that pushed him to do better in school. By his senior year, Miguel had spent three years in the safety of our home.
“My tutors helped me study every night for years. And they helped me with college applications.”
So, as Miguel sat by the lake, his future weighed heavily in the thin envelope. It all came down to that exact moment. He tore the envelope, gently, and began to read.
He folded the letter and tucked it back into the envelope. He looked out over the lake as tears began to form in his eyes. He took a deep breath as the realization washed over him. Then smiling, he said softly to himself, “I’m going to college!”
Please note: Because we care deeply about protecting our children’s privacy, the names and certain identifying details in this story have been changed.