Not Your Average Graduate

This is the season of graduations. At this time of year parents step back and acknowledge the accomplishment of their children despite the challenges associated with parenting adolescents. It is a time when some dreams are realized and new ones are established. Although we at Hillsides do not attempt to take the place of parents, we can not help, but be proud of our residents when they achieve a significant milestone such as graduating from high school, especially when the achievement comes after confronting considerable obstacles.

This past Friday evening was a momentous occasion for one of our longtime residents. In care for the last several years with only sporadic contact with members of his family, this young man graduated from La Salle High School. Bright, timid and yet determined, he achieved what few of our graduates do–a diploma from one of the more prestigious schools in our area. More than once, staff had shared with me their concerns about his ability to persevere. Nevertheless, they offered him the support that helped him get to this milestone confident and hopeful.
He said to our veteran group home director, Ramona McGee, with your help I made it. With our help and his commitment to his studies and addressing the trauma he experienced as a child, he made it. With our help and his determination, he can see beyond his fears to dream of a full life. This young man is not your average graduate.
He now has a high school diploma, a part-time job and will soon move to our transitional housing program at Hillsides Youth Moving On. There will be many more challenges and decisions to make yet he will not address these alone as he will be supported by the Hillsides community. Although we are not a substitute for his true family, we commit to walk alongside him so that, with our continued support, he can achieve even more and fulfill his dreams.
Instrumental in his success has been the fine staff of our boy’s group home, who along with Brother DeSales and other staff at LaSalle, never gave up on this young man. Together they surrounded this young man with the care he needed and you could see the result in his beaming smile on graduation night.
Let me take this opportunity to thank LaSalle for their generous support and encourage all of you to never give up hope for the children and families we serve. This young man’s graduation is witness to the power of our efforts.

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