Sam worked two jobs and earned his GED during his time at the Craven Transitional Living Home.

Breaking the Cycle | Fall 2015 Spotlight |

Sean was 14 when his 15-year-old brother was diagnosed with brain cancer. Their parents were divorced, and the brothers moved from their dad’s house to live with their mother during the chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

That’s when Sean’s troubles began. Although he’d been cited for fighting as young as 13, he’d avoided the street drugs and alcohol abuse that permeated his childhood.

Prescription painkillers were a different story.

With access to medications in his new home, Sean began to use and sell drugs, and soon he was fighting more. He was 15 in November 2013 when a court counselor referred him to Methodist Home for Children and its Macon Multipurpose Home. MHC operates its multipurpose homes in partnership with the N.C. Department of Public Safety.

It took time for Sean to adjust to the Macon home and all of its rules. He failed drug tests and resisted authority at first, but as the lessons began to click in, he did well with the structure and attention from staff. Nine months later, he earned his discharge from Macon and he went back to his hometown to live with family friends.

But Sean learned that life wasn’t going to get any easier for him away from MHC. He didn’t feel stable or safe. He hadn’t finished high school and he didn’t have a job. “I felt like if I didn’t find help right away, I’d go to a Youth Development Center or end up in jail or something like that,” he says.

In December, he called for help. Lindsey Morgan had been program manager when Sean was at the Macon home, and he trusted her. He had noticed that she neither let up—nor gave up— when he challenged her. Sean didn’t know it when he called, but Lindsey had moved to New Bern as program manager for MHC’s Craven Transitional Living Home for court-involved boys. When he asked to come back to MHC, she admitted him to Craven.

Sean stayed six months in the transitional living home, working a grocery job as a stocker, getting a second job selling doughnuts and earning his GED. He had new confidence and a determination to change when he left in July.

“I always wanted to do something with my life,” he says. “I never actually knew what I wanted to do until I got (to Craven) and put more focus into it.”

Today, Sean is keeping his distance from drugs, and his brother’s cancer is in remission. He’s living again with his mother, working at a grocery store and taking community college classes with plans to earn 15 credit hours before pursuing a career in the Marine Corps. He’s never left North Carolina, so he hopes the military will take him to new places.

“Sean is a very determined young man, and he wants to be the change in his family,” Lindsey says. “He wants to be the person who breaks the cycle. He didn’t realize that as much until he had people tell him he could.”