School administrators searched for options for DeJohn, and thankfully, found a solution. “They looked up the best place for me to go, and it was Mercy Home,” he says.
In our care, DeJohn says he has found a network of support. Our coworkers and tutors hold him accountable for his actions and provide a framework for him to learn from his challenges.
At first, DeJohn found himself overwhelmed by our tutors’ high standards. But they inspired him to complete his homework on time. Soon, he started seeing results. Before long, DeJohn’s report card was a string of A’s, B’s, and C’s.
“I felt awesome. It felt like I could do anything I want,” he says.
Like many of our kids, DeJohn found the first few weeks living with a new peer group intimidating. But in time, he earned their respect and trust—and began flashing his winning skills on the basketball court. Soon, he started making friends, some he now calls “best friends for life.”
DeJohn also started connecting with our coworkers, especially his two advocates—youth care workers who provide personal support and encouragement for our kids.
“Sarah, my first advocate was amazing. No matter what I did, she was willing to help me. She saw the positive in everything, even if I did something bad,” he says. “Rob, my current advocate does that, too. People joke around with us. They call Rob and me ‘father and son’ because our bond is so strong.”
DeJohn has even become an advocate himself—to a classmate whose family is struggling. “I’m trying to get her to come live here, so she can have a better life,” he says.
DeJohn says he loves living at Mercy Home and doesn’t hide his pride. “I was showing it off to every one of my friends at school, telling them I lived in a mansion, only with ten other guys,” he says with a smile.
He recalls his first Christmas at Mercy Home with particular fondness. He remembers the decorations and the Christmas tree, and gets excited thinking of the presents he received: a pair of gym shoes and a gift card.
But it’s the memory of the fellowship that makes his eyes light up. “We had a big old party. It was great! Everyone was so excited,” he says. “It felt awesome and fun.”