Anthony’s Smile Shines Thanks to Mercy Home
When he was younger, one of Anthony’s favorite things in the world was attending baseball games with his father. On their way to the ballpark, they talked about their favorite players and their strategy to catch foul balls. Anthony loved playing baseball, as well, and knowing that his father worked hard to attend his games made him very proud.
One day, his father came home from work and Anthony could immediately tell something was wrong. His father went into the bedroom and shut the door, and Anthony overheard him on the phone explaining that he had been laid off from his factory job of 20 years.
Though his father tried, he struggled to find a new job. He did his best to make do with the unemployment check he received, but it just wasn’t enough. Eventually, he lost their home to foreclosure.
Though his father tried, he struggled to find a new job. He did his best to make do with the unemployment check he received, but it just wasn’t enough.
With nowhere else to turn, Anthony and his father moved in with his grandmother. As a last resort, Anthony’s father accepted a job working construction out of state. Though he wanted to stay with his son, Anthony’s father thought it was best that he live with his grandmother and remain in the same school.
The situation was meant to be temporary, but Anthony’s father kept the job for several years. He visited his son when he could, but as time went on, the visits became fewer and further between.
Anthony’s grandmother did her best to provide structure for Anthony, but when he got to high school, he fell in with a new crowd of kids and joined a gang. His behavior changed dramatically – he quit the baseball team and started getting into fights at school.
After a while, Anthony’s presence at school caused so much conflict that they asked him to leave. The only other school Anthony could attend was in a rival gang neighborhood, and instead of risking attack, Anthony stopped attending school.
It didn’t take long before Anthony was assigned a truancy officer. He already had some run-ins with the police due to his gang involvement, and the truancy officer informed him that he was at risk of being sent to a juvenile detention center.
This was the wake-up call Anthony needed, but he still felt that he could not attend school in a rival gang neighborhood. And he didn’t know where to turn for help.
That’s when the truancy officer told Anthony about Mercy Home, and how it might be the solution he needed. But Anthony quickly rejected the idea. In his mind, he envisioned Mercy Home as a jail, or a rundown orphanage that he had seen in old movies.
But when Anthony had a chance to visit our Home, he quickly learned that it was not the place he had envisioned. He decided to give it a try.
Anthony moved in to Mercy Home soon after that, however, his transition was anything but smooth.
Anthony held tightly to the hardened persona he had developed in the streets. Surrounded by boys he didn’t know, he felt a constant need to prove and protect himself. He also struggled with the rules, like letting his youth care workers know where he was after school and abiding by his curfew.
But after a few months, and many trying moments, the wall Anthony built around himself began to crumble, and he adapted to the structure of our Home. In group therapy, he learned that some of the other boys were enduring the same struggles in adjusting to their new life at Mercy Home. They found common ground and formed friendships.
After a few months, and many trying moments, the wall Anthony built around himself began to crumble, and he adapted to the structure of our Home.
Anthony was able to attend a new school in a new neighborhood as well. In working with a tutor, he caught up on all the work he had missed. And once his grades improved, he got an after-school job stocking the shelves at a nearby sporting goods store.
Now, when his father comes to visit – Anthony’s smile lights up the entire Home. They enjoy playing catch in the grass at Mercy Home before heading over to the ballpark to take in a game.
Anthony once told me that he became angry when his father moved away – it was like losing his best friend. Though he still misses his father very much, he is happy and grateful to be where he is. He told me that if he hadn’t come to Mercy Home, he’s certain that he would have ended up in jail or a victim of gang violence.
The success of kids like Anthony is only possible because of Guardian Angels like you. Your gifts give them the strength to overcome the challenges of their pasts and build a solid foundation for the future.