DeMikael was in elementary school when he started running with the older guys in his neighborhood, breaking into homes for money to buy clothes and shoes. He was a follower, and he found himself in the juvenile justice system by the time he was 10. His charges stacked up over the years, but nothing else changed. DeMikael could not imagine a life other than what he saw on the street, outside his front door.
By the time he was 15, he was on his way to youth prison.
Today, he is on his way to college.
DeMikael lives in our Craven Transitional Living Home. Going there was a choice he made for himself – a way to get away from his old life after spending 10 months at Dobbs Youth Development Center. He was released from Dobbs in December, a few weeks before Christmas, and while he really just wanted to go home to his grandmother, he came to us instead.
That decision led DeMikael to this day, touring East Carolina University with other teens from our Craven home. He’s on track to finish high school in June, and he’ll start community college with plans to transfer to a four-year college for a bachelor’s degree. He’s wants to study business and open a shoe store one day. In the meantime, he’s working part-time at Popeye’s, managing his own bank account, volunteering at Meals on Wheels or Salvation Army, and studying for his driver’s license. A few weeks ago, he traveled to Raleigh to tell state lawmakers about his life – the low points and the new hopes.
At Methodist Home for Children we work with court-involved teens who are at risk of going deeper into the correctional system. We teach them to respect authority and follow the rules, and we challenge them each day to do something new. For those like DeMikael who want to go to college, we help with tuition, living expenses, and mentoring through our Hackley Education and Learning Program.
DeMikael makes us proud with his drive to do better. He can’t change the past, but he can see a life now that he’d never considered — a future with a college education, a job, and the means to take care of himself.