Growing up, Deandre and his father didn’t have the greatest relationship. Deandre wanted to share life’s special moments with his father, but conversations always led back to his schoolwork…

For Deandre, finding academic success was never easy.

“I used to fail every class, except gym,” he said.

Deandre had a hard time paying attention and listening in the classroom. At home, he struggled to follow the rules. His father worked from 4 p.m. until midnight and told Deandre to stay in the house after school.

“I would go outside and to the next-door neighbor’s house—things I wasn’t supposed to do,” he said.

His father realized he could not trust 14-year-old Deandre to be at home by himself all day, so he sent him to live with his mother. But this change did not provide the structure Deandre needed because his mother has been using drugs for as long as he can remember.

“When I was living with her and she was using, I basically just got my way. I used to always go outside and do whatever I wanted,” Deandre explained.

“When I was living with her and she was using, I basically just got my way. I used to always go outside and do whatever I wanted,”

Recognizing Deandre needed a more structured environment, his father arranged for him to visit Mercy Home. As he spent time getting to know the staff, doing chores, and playing in the gym, Deandre realized our Home could be a good place for him. A few months later, Deandre moved in. He immediately felt like he belonged.

“I fit in,” he said. “It’s like there was a missing a piece, and I was that piece that just connected.”

During his first week, he joined a group outing to a 5-on-5 basketball tournament. Once there, Deandre was shocked to see two of his heroes, both Chicago natives: NBA legend Isiah Thomas and current NBA player Jabari Parker. He could not believe he was breathing the same air as they were!

Deandre also discovered that he could gain work experience at Mercy Home. With our staff’s help, he filled out his first job application—to work in our Learning Center. After his first job interview, Deandre was offered the position. A couple of days each week after school, he works to keep the Learning Center clean and organized.

“I fit in,” he said. “It’s like there was a missing a piece, and I was that piece that just connected.”

“It feels good to have a job,” he said. “And then to see when your check comes—that feels good.”

Aside from fitting in at Mercy Home, Deandre enrolled in a new school. Though potentially overwhelming, the transition was seamless. Several boys at Mercy Home also attended his new school and helped introduce him around.

Not only was Deandre finding a new sense of responsibility and camaraderie, he also discovered academic abilities he never knew he had.

“When my first report card came out, I was amazed by what I did in that little period of time,” he said. “Two months of me being at Mercy Home, then looking at the A’s and B’s that I had was like a dream. I was about to cry, because I never saw A’s and B’s on my report card like that.”

Through hard work and dedication, good things continued to happen for Deandre. He soon found himself on the honor roll at school, a feat that seemed unimaginable just months earlier.

Gym class used to be the only passing grade Deandre could manage, but now he juggles a course load that includes analytical math and abstract algebra. But creative writing is where his passion lies because it allows him to truly express himself.

As Deandre matured into a young man, his relationship with his father grew stronger. Instead of their conversations always circling back to school, Deandre says he can talk to his father about anything now.

“And it’s all because of my grades, and it’s all because of me coming to Mercy Home,” Deandre explained. “My advocate has been helping me, my program manager helps me a lot, my therapist has been helping me—the whole staff. I’m really appreciative about that.”

When Deandre returns home, he’ll be more focused, he says. He plans on continuing the treatment he’s doing at Mercy Home so that he can keep building his relationship with his father.

Thank you for supporting young people like Deandre. Your generosity provides the structure that helps our kids discover their true talents and potential. Doing so helps them make stronger connections with themselves, their family, and the community in which they live.

2 replies
  1. Carolyn Fry says:

    So excited for you deandre!!! You are going in the right direction!! Keep up the good work…I dont know you but I am proud of you!!!

    Reply

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2 replies
  1. Carolyn Fry says:

    So excited for you deandre!!! You are going in the right direction!! Keep up the good work…I dont know you but I am proud of you!!!

    Reply

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