Nate didn’t expect to spend last Christmas in the emergency room, but that’s where the 14-year-old found himself after his grandfather had a stroke on Christmas Eve. The nurses did their best to cheer Nate up with Christmas cookies, but he was inconsolable.

Nate was worried about his grandfather, who was a stable force in his life. He moved in with his grandfather five years ago when his mother’s substance use got out of control. Every few months, she would get clean, show up, and promise to do better. But that only lasted a couple days before she disappeared without a word.

Nate and his grandfather developed a strong bond as they spent the bulk of their time together. They enjoyed teaching each other new things and learning from one another. Nate showed his grandfather how to use his new phone, while his grandfather taught Nate how to use a power drill.

Smiling young boy

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.”

“It feels good to help people,” Nate said. “Mercy Home helped me, so I try to give back.”

After our Home connected his grandfather with some community resources for elder care, Nate was able to concentrate on his studies. Now that he’s back in school, Nate turned his grades around and made the honor roll for the first time.

Despite a full class schedule, Nate still finds time to volunteer around our Home. In fact, he’s become a real role model to our younger kids, especially when they see him helping his peers with algebra homework and hanging holiday decorations around our Home.

“It feels good to help people,” Nate said. “Mercy Home helped me, so I try to give back.”

Thank you for giving back and helping kids like Nate. Your ongoing support ensures a strong family foundation, as it passes from one generation to the next.

Please note: Because we care deeply about protecting our children’s privacy, the names and certain identifying details in this story have been changed.

2 replies
  1. Sr. Lucille Blais says:

    Mate is a very responsible boy despite the home situation he was brought up in.I’ m happy that Mercy Home has come to his aid.
    I pray for everyone at Mercy Home ,staff and children twice a day. Now Mate will have a special “slot” in my prayers.
    Thank you, Father Donahue, for helping those children to have a happy and wholesome place to create good memories and a bright future.
    Sr. Lucille

    Reply
  2. Debbie says:

    I’m so glad I can help Mercy Home.
    When I was Nate’s age, I was abused AND there was noone or no place for me to go to back in the 1960’s. I’m blessed that God helped me through my pain!!!!!!!
    May the heaven;y Father continue to keep Nate AND all children surrounded by His love, the heavenly Brother walk beside them, the Best Friend (Holy Spirit) help them make the right decisions and the heavenly Mother hold them in Her arms drying Itheir tears!!!!!!

    Reply

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2 replies
  1. Sr. Lucille Blais says:

    Mate is a very responsible boy despite the home situation he was brought up in.I’ m happy that Mercy Home has come to his aid.
    I pray for everyone at Mercy Home ,staff and children twice a day. Now Mate will have a special “slot” in my prayers.
    Thank you, Father Donahue, for helping those children to have a happy and wholesome place to create good memories and a bright future.
    Sr. Lucille

    Reply
  2. Debbie says:

    I’m so glad I can help Mercy Home.
    When I was Nate’s age, I was abused AND there was noone or no place for me to go to back in the 1960’s. I’m blessed that God helped me through my pain!!!!!!!
    May the heaven;y Father continue to keep Nate AND all children surrounded by His love, the heavenly Brother walk beside them, the Best Friend (Holy Spirit) help them make the right decisions and the heavenly Mother hold them in Her arms drying Itheir tears!!!!!!

    Reply

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