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Can You Imagine Quitting School at 15

October 19, 2007

Can you imagine quitting school at 15 and not knowing what your future holds? It seemed like that was Kevin’s only path at the time, to quit school. He was failing in most of his classes and things weren’t any better at home. His mom was raising him and his two brothers. She was having problems paying the bills and they were losing their home. With all the instability in the house, it wasn’t easy for any of the kids to pull good grades. Zach, Kevin’s brother could only muster Ds and Fs and Bill, his other brother, could not get his homework completed and turned in without misplacing it.

Being on the brink of homelessness and then actually becoming a family who is homeless is extremely stressful to all involved. Family members go into survival mode and kids can’t even think about doing homework or getting decent grades. Everything is looked at in “short term” time frame. How will the family eat? Where will the family stay? Who will help them? Weeks turn into months and the family still suffers until the cycle of poverty is stopped. When the kids go for months worried about basic needs such as food and shelter, school work is no longer a priority. Also, most high school kids need a computer to complete their homework. If you are homeless, you don’t even have a library card so using the computers at the library is no longer an option. Everything becomes an extreme effort. Unfortunately, in the long run these months of falling behind in school will mean a lot of make up work to catch up or even failing a grade.

Luckily for Kevin and his family, they entered the Bridge Communities transitional housing program. About that same time, a new tutor, Gayle, was beginning to help out at Bridge. She was assigned to Kevin’s family and within days Gayle, her husband and 24 year-old daughter were all helping tutor Kevin and his brothers.

Four to five days a week you would find the six of them huddled over books and calculators after school in the Bridge Communities Westmont learning center—located in the same building where the family lived. In between, Gayle kept in close contact with the teen’s teachers at two schools through email, teacher conferences, and frequent conversations with their mother.

All three children raised their grades from Ds and Fs to As and Bs. Kevin, Zach, and Bill are feeling proud of themselves for what they have accomplished. Kevin admits “I want to study and earn the good grades so I can go to college.”

Thank God for people like Gayle and her family who became tutors to Kevin and his brothers. They were able to help the kids focus on what is important in their lives right now while Bridge Communities program helped their mom understand what she needs to do to get the family back into their own home.

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