Terry JTerry was in Methodist Home for Children’s Craven Transitional Living Program and published a book of poetry he wrote at Dobbs Youth Development Center. He shares his story and a poem, “The White Wall Society.” 

Order his book, Forsaking Petrification, on Amazon.

This is how I became part of The White Wall Society.

I am the youngest out of 7 children, and I was 10 years old—in 3rd grade—when I watched my father lie across the bathroom floor. He was almost naked, lying there unconscious. I watched him get put on a stretcher and taken away in an ambulance. I was forced to go to school that day, wondering if my father was going to be OK. Everything changed when I got off that yellow school bus in the afternoon and I saw all those cars in the yard. I realized my very own father was dead.

I was angry and confused. My mother had been through a lot by then, and she just checked out on me. All she could do was drink alcohol to try to stop her pain. My sisters and brothers were grown and all out on their own, and I was left alone to wonder about some of the things I was seeing.

At 10 ½, I was hanging out with 19- and 20-year-olds. At 11 years old, I was smoking and drinking with them.

I knew it was too much for my mom to raise me, and soon I wanted something else that I could call family. I was sick and tired of living off of public assistance and making F’s in school and summer school every year.

At 13 years I wanted to count my own money. I had $120 and the first ounce of weed that I ever bought. One of the older people I hung with showed me how a scale worked, and I started selling drugs. That lasted for a year and a half. I knew it wouldn’t last long. So I switched things up a bit.

I went from selling drugs to home invasions, taking electronics, money or drugs. Breaking into houses was different for me. It was a risk. You had the chance of getting shot or stabbed. I did it so much I got good at it, and I could do it alone. It wasn’t a two-man job anymore.

Then I went to sticking people up. That was wild. I felt like I was in a daze, in a rage, and I realized that I had fallen in love with the action. I didn’t really think much about what I was doing or whether I’d get caught. I knew people who were doing a lot worse, even killing, so I felt safe.

When I was 15, I stuck up a motel and I learned later that I’d scared the clerk so bad he needed mental health counseling for a while. I was arrested and charged with armed robbery, and I was sent to a detention center. From there, I was sent to a group home and then Dobbs Youth Development.

I was at Dobbs when I started to think about my life and writing, and I discovered that I had a talent for poetry. I also started to go to church and I was baptized there. After seven months, I was sent to Methodist Home for Children and its Craven Transitional Living Home.

At Craven, I could stay on the right track and get my book of poetry published—and I did, with help of Methodist Home for Children. I’m going to Craven Community College for my GED and I work at the Waffle House in New Bern. I’ve gotten help with saving money, networking and transportation. To be at the Craven Home is like going to college and living with parents who care. They have helped my dream come true. They teach us all how to live on our own. How to get a job and keep a job. I have met a lot of supportive people at Methodist Home and I am very thankful. It was truly a blessing to go through this program. These are wonderful people who care.

I never thought I would get to go to college, but thanks to Methodist Home, I am getting my education with funding and mentoring from the Hackley Education and Learning Program. I plan to get a degree in creative writing and one day earn a Ph.D. in education.

Thanks for your support of Methodist Home for Children and all the lives it has changed.