Billy was five when he was adopted with his 3-year-old brother. His life was never normal, he said. The adoptive parents were physically and verbally abusive. Billy’s parents told him to lie to DCF when his broken leg was investigated; if he did, the promised they would take a vacation and do fun things together. So, he lied. He knew his parents would make sure that he would regret not following their instructions. Acting out, got Billy expelled from a number of schools. He was put in a boarding school at the age of 13.
When he turned 18, the school told him his parents had stopped paying tuition. The school arranged transportation and sent him home. When he arrived home, he was not welcomed. Now homeless, without the ability to support himself, Billy started living in the woods on food brought to him by a friend.
At this point, counselors from StandUp For Kids – Worcester met Billy and started him on the long road toward self-sufficiency. Billy needed more intensive, long-term help due to his mental health, and our counselors dedicated themselves to overcoming multiple challenges. We gave him transportation to three out-of-town court cases, and worked with a Department of Mental Health counselor to get him in DMH housing and obtain SSI income. Billy’s troubled behavior resulted in him being kicked out of DMH housing and shelters. He continued to live in the streets until his SSI was approved. He moved into a dangerous rooming house, then was finally able to move into safer subsidized housing.
When we first worked with Billy, he did not know how to care for himself independently. He would react to discussions about working and finding stable housing by asking: “Why should I work if I’m getting everything free?” But then our Outreach Center opened and Billy and a few other youth became regulars. They ate meals as a group, played games, talked, and set goals. Billy was establishing relationships, building trust, and beginning to accept us as his family. Using Trauma Informed Care, our counselors considered Billy’s history of trauma and helped him gain control over his actions and his life. Our counselors also helped him acquire basic financial skills and enabled him to obtain a high school diploma, an important goal for Billy.
With our continued encouragement, Billy worked a few internships, and some interviewing skills training helped him get a steady job. Now Billy is working two jobs, renting an apartment, and saving money to help his brother. His new sense of accomplishment and independence prevents him from accepting donations or gifts from us now. Yet the relationships he has established with caring volunteers at the Outreach Center bring him back occasionally. With plans to continue his education, Billy has a positive, productive future.