Nick’s New Start

Nick’s New Start

When Nick was five years old, he saw his first professional basketball game on television. He was mesmerized. He loved the quick action of the game, the colorful shoes the players wore, and the excitement of the crowd in the stands.

He wanted to play, too, but his parents couldn’t afford to sign him up for the park district team. They could only afford to buy him a basketball so that he could play on his own. Nick begged his older brother to take him to the park so that he could practice. Once he got old enough, he began walking to the park by himself, joining pickup games and practicing his jump shot for hours.

A Community Struck By Violence

The only problem was that Nick lived in a dangerous neighborhood filled with gang activity. The park where he played basketball had been the location of multiple shootings. Even though sometimes he was nervous about what might happen, his love of basketball continued drawing him to the court. At least until one warm night in the middle of the summer.

Nick was playing with several of his closest friends when shots started to ring out.

It was chaos. And when the men shooting peeled away in their car, Nick realized his best friend had been shot. He died before the ambulance could arrive. Nick took the loss of his best friend hard. He was too afraid and too sad to return to the park. Basketball no longer seemed like fun—it was just a reminder of the trauma and loss he faced.

Nick even stopped going to school. And with his parents both working multiple jobs, there was nobody around to give him the support he needed or make sure he made it to class. Nick was terrified to leave the house, depressed over the loss of his friend, and felt very alone.

When Nick’s parents found out that he stopped going to school, they began to understand the depth of the suffering he was experiencing. But they knew they couldn’t provide him with the support he needed. Nick’s principal knew about Mercy Home, and she thought it might be a good solution for Nick. Nick was eager to leave his old neighborhood behind. But the transition to living at Mercy Home wasn’t easy, either.

Getting Back On Track

Nick wasn’t used to talking about his feelings. But the longer he attended sessions with his therapist, as well as the group therapy sessions with the other boys, he began to realize that healing came with processing things out loud.

Nick also needed some help to get caught up in school after missing so much. He was thankful for the tutors who worked with him multiple times a week to get back on track.

His favorite part of being at Mercy Home, unsurprisingly, was our basketball court and gymnasium where he could safely practice his skills without the fear of violence. At first, it was difficult for him to play without the trauma he experienced bubbling up. But our coworkers helped him process his feelings, and he is starting to love thegame again.

Nick came to Mercy Home feeling hopeless and alone. But thanks to the prayerful support of friends like you, he knows that he is a safe place of healing. Thank you!

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