Every spring, they would plant tomatoes and squash in the backyard garden, along with milkweed to attract monarch butterflies. The first summer Nate moved in, his grandfather showed him how to use a lawn mower, instilling in him a strong work ethic. Before long, Nate was making extra cash mowing lawns in the neighborhood.
Prior to moving in with his grandfather, Nate says, life was grim — full of dark fragments that he’d just as soon forget.
“I remember a lot of missing furniture and appliances. One day, we’d have a toaster or a TV, and the next day it’d be gone,” he said. “I even remember coming home from school one afternoon, and my bed was gone. I had to sleep on the floor.”
When his grandfather got sick, Nate feared he’d have to return to this life. He had no other family to live with—no aunts, uncles, or cousins. And he wasn’t sure where his father was. Fortunately, his grandfather made a good enough recovery to return home. His mobility, however, was limited, which meant he could no longer do the small handyman jobs he did to stay afloat.
Nate was happy that his grandfather was home and that he could continue living with him. But his grandfather had trouble keeping up with the bills. The cupboards and refrigerator grew bare. Small repairs remained unfixed, and, once or twice, the electricity was cut off.
Nate did his best to keep up with the housework, but attending a full day of school, then having to cook and clean wore him thin. Still, he persisted, wanting to make his grandfather proud by pitching in and lending a hand. That winter, Nate walked door-to-door asking to shovel snow from sidewalks and porches.
This extra cash made a dent, but Nate needed more to help his grandfather. He’s ashamed to admit it, but he started ditching school to pick up more odd jobs. At first, it was just a couple days, but it soon turned into weeks.
Nate’s school counselor was concerned and made a home visit. When she learned about Nate’s situation, she told him and his grandfather about Mercy Home. They knew something had to change. After learning more about our Home, they were impressed, and Nate move in.
“Mercy Home gave me a chance to catch my breath,” he said. “Before I moved in, I was stretching myself too thin. Even though I was just a kid, I was taking on adult responsibilities.”