Robert Shorty’s connection to Mercy Home for Boys & Girls goes back a long way.
Today, he has a successful career in the corporate world and is a Mercy Home board member. But once upon a time, Robert was a 14-year-old having trouble at home.
Robert grew up on the West Side of Chicago with his mother and his sister. He remembers feeling disconnected as a teenager because he did not have a relationship with his father. He dealt with those feelings by acting out.
For two years, Robert struggled in school, at home, and in general. His mother decided that he needed more help than she could give him. So she decided to reach out to Mercy Home.
It took some time for Robert to warm to the idea. “It was a really rough transition for me,” he says.
Robert took out his frustration on the program designed to help him. He rebelled in any way he could. He wouldn’t wake up on time, was late to school, and didn’t clean his room.
“I think it was my way of being defiant,” he says.
But after some time, he began to look at Mercy Home differently, thanks to the connections he built with our coworkers.
“Having those opportunities through Mercy Home to see a bigger chunk of the world, a bigger perspective, helped me to want something different for my life.”
He decided to find ways to make the situation more positive. The first step he took was participating in writing contests at Mercy Home. One essay he wrote earned him the opportunity to take a special snowmobiling trip. Mercy Home’s outings began to show him that the world was larger than he had known it to be.
“It’s hard to ask someone to aspire to more than they know or see. When people are in situations such as mine growing up, it’s hard to want more,” he explains. “Having those opportunities through Mercy Home to see a bigger chunk of the world, a bigger perspective, helped me to want something different for my life,” he says. Now, he views that as one of the greatest gifts Mercy Home gave him.
To College and Beyond
Robert spent most of his high school years at Mercy Home, then earned a scholarship to attend a university in New York. But something tragic happened during his first semester there: the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
“I was all the way in New York, I didn’t have a support system,” he remembers.
Shaken, Robert struggled the next semester, receiving a D+ in one of his classes. That meant he didn’t have the grades to keep the scholarship he had earned. So he returned home.
Robert took classes at a school nearby until his godmother encouraged him to go back to school full time. This time, he chose a smaller, two-year college. The smaller class sizes and tutoring resources helped him to thrive.
📽️ Robert talks about life after high school.
“I was able to go there and really excel,” he says. Robert participated in several organizations focused on community service. He was even elected as the campus student body president.
After graduating, Robert continued his education at Illinois State University, majoring in sociology. There, he served as the president of the largest minority group association, the Interdenominational Youth Choir.
Robert began to realize just how much Mercy Home had changed his life. So he took a job working at a group home with kids who grew up just like he did. “I was smart enough at this point in my life [to know] that Mercy was probably the best thing that happened to me and I wanted to give back to others,” he says.
After graduating from Illinois State, Robert traveled to Kenya, volunteering at a women’s domestic violence center, school, and orphanage.
When he returned home, he interviewed for a job on the Target Corporation security management team, but was recommended instead for a human resources position. He was hired as an HR manager for Target. “That’s what led me to HR,” he says. “I fell in love with it at Target.”
Robert enjoyed it so much that he got a master’s degree in human resource management. After three years with Target, he took a job as an HR consultant with McDonald’s and was promoted to regional HR manager. A year ago, he was recruited for a human resources job at Starbucks, and he loves it.
📽️ On his current job in human resources.
Giving Back to Mercy Home
📽️ “Anything I can do to help Mercy Home.”
With all the success Robert has found, he is grateful to his mother for making a tough decision and he has never forgotten where he came from: Mercy Home for Boys & Girls.
“Had it not been for some of those experiences [at Mercy Home], I may not have been able to push and excel or want to excel, and I owe a large part of that to Mercy Home,” he says. “So I’m very grateful.”
Robert supports our kids and our mission as a member of our Associate Board at Mercy Home. Just like you, he wants to give back in any way he can. Thank you for all you do to make success stories like Robert’s possible. Your kindness is truly life-changing.