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Mercy Home Helps Young Man Regain His Footing

Mercy Home Helps Young Man Regain His Footing

Mercy Home really showed me that education was my ticket to a successful life. Once this sunk in, I apologized to my parents because I know how hard they work. Now we get along great.

When the pandemic began over a year ago and schools shifted to remote learning, Derrick was excited about going to class in the virtual world — but for all the wrong reasons.

“I liked the idea of not having to get up early and deal with a long bus ride,” he said. “But I also knew I could probably just lay in bed and spend the rest of the day playing video games.”

Derrick’s parents are essential workers and never had the option to work from home. His mom is a gas station cashier and his dad is a janitor at a hospital. Throughout the pandemic, both of them clocked in as usual, while Derrick stayed home with the expectation that he would be responsible enough to stay engaged with school. But that’s not what happened.

“Almost immediately I started gaming the system,” said Derrick, now a high school junior. “I’d log in to class for attendance, then just turn my camera off and keep my mic muted. Every now and then I’d say something to make it look like I was participating, but mostly I was doing other stuff.”

Derrick did enough assignments to skate by, but as the pandemic wore on and cabin fever set it, he spent less time on his schoolwork and more time goofing around with his friends.

“A lot of the time our internet would go out or my school computer wouldn’t update,” he said. “I didn’t really have the patience to deal with all that, so I started going out with my friends or having them over, even though my parents told me I had to stay home and keep my distance from people.”

Derrick told his parents what they wanted to hear when they returned home, exhausted and anxious from their jobs, which put them at high risk for contracting the virus. They were so fraught from their shifts that they never followed up to see if Derrick was doing well. They didn’t have much capacity for anything outside of work, dinner, sleep, and stress.

When they received an alarming phone call from a school administrator about Derrick’s unexcused absences and failing grades, they finally got wise. They were angry, but more so, they were disappointed that Derrick didn’t seem to care about how hard they were working or the risks they were taking to provide for him.

Derrick’s parents confronted him, but instead of changing his ways and buckling down on school, his misbehavior continued. When his parents left for work, he started having small parties, which often included drinking and drugs. Naturally, this caused a lot of friction in the house and arguments escalated into loud fights.

Derrick’s parents felt helpless against the weight of the pandemic, their responsibilities, and Derrick’s behavior. So they did some research and reached out to Mercy Home for help.

When Derrick moved in, right away he was given his own desk and workspace where he could concentrate on remote learning. Virtual tutors helped him catch up in school and group therapy discussions helped him realize how disrespectful he’d been to his parents.

“Just having reliable technology and people holding me accountable made a world of difference with school,” Derrick said. “Not only did my grades improve, but Mercy Home really showed me that education was my ticket to a successful life. Once this sunk in, I apologized to my parents because I know how hard they work. Now we get along great.”

Since coming to Mercy Home, Derrick has reevaluated his social circles and let go of the negative influences in his life.

“My old friends were taking me down a dangerous road,” he said. “Since I’ve come to Mercy Home, a lot of them have gotten into real trouble. So I’m glad I cut ties when I did. Plus, I’ve made a lot of new friends with the guys I live with.”

Derrick is looking forward to the possibility of a summer internship, even if it has to be a virtual position.

“It never occurred to me that I could get an internship with a tech company or music studio, but Mercy Home showed me that’s possible,” he said. “I’m excited to see what’s out there.”

In the meantime, Derrick and his family are grateful to feel a sense of stability in their lives. Thanks to your compassionate support, they look forward to brighter days ahead.

Please note: Because we care deeply about protecting our children’s privacy, the names and certain identifying details in this story have been changed.

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