I am now 16 years old, live in the center of Coatesville, Pennsylvania and have been involved in the ministries of Camp at Old Mill and The Bridge Academy and Community Center (BACC) for most of my life. Growing up was pretty tough… My mother has not been involved in my life at all. She was 14 and my father 15 when I was born. My mom has 7 other kids, but they all live in Harrisburg. I do, however, have a very good relationship with all my siblings.
My grandparents raised me since I was 2 months old. My father was part of my life for the first couple of years until he was incarcerated for 8 years for robbery, possession of firearms and marijuana.
Living with my grandparents was very interesting at times because some months would be good and others would be very hard. My grandmother worked at the VA (Veterans Affairs) hospital for 17 years. My grandfather bounced back and forth between having a job and being unemployed. He had an alcohol problem and stayed out late drinking. Whenever he returned home drunk, there would be a lot of verbal and physical abuse to myself and my grandmother. But, despite these problems, we didn’t have many financial difficulties. I always had what I needed, and can’t remember having any of that type of struggles.
While growing up, there were times when I felt loved, and times when I felt unloved. School was tough, because I would always be worrying about my home life. I would wonder whether my grandfather would be drunk that day and whether it would be a bad day or good day. During 6th grade, I got into a lot of trouble at school and ended up going to a Hands On Behavioral School for the next 3 years. There I worked hard, did well and was able to return to the high school in 9th grade.
I really enjoyed going to the Bridge Academy and the Camp at Old Mill as a child, because these were good places to get away from all that was happening at my house. One of my favorite memories from Camp was when I starred in a commercial that we made up and taped. I had a favorite counselor, named AJ Miller. I looked forward to spending time with him each year. I also loved when Mr. Eworth would do his lessons that incorporated art. At the BACC, I enjoyed the pottery classes as a young kid. I mostly loved getting to know all the volunteers. Now I am involved with Young Life, which also meets at the Bridge Academy. I have been going to summer and winter camps since I was in 9th grade and love helping with all of the other programs for younger kids.
It is fun being around good people like Josh, Jordan and Jason and I saw how they were impacting people’s lives, including mine. I felt like God was calling me to become a leader too. Therefore, I love helping at the BACC every day, at Kid’s Club every Thursday and at the Camp during summer
I got to know Jesus at the Camp at Old Mill when I was really young but started taking my relationship with Him more seriously in 7th grade. I realized that some of my closer friends were not a good influence and I stopped hanging out with them as much. As a result I lost some friends as I became more involved at the BACC and Camp. At the same time, however, my relationship with God grew, making me realize that it is OK.
As far as my family life now – my grandfather went for rehabilitation for 30 days and has been sober ever since. So I don’t have to worry about what I will find at home each day. I also don’t have to worry about the verbal and physical abuse anymore. My dad just got out of jail this past summer, and lived with us for a while. I still don’t really have a relationship with him, but at least he is out of jail. He now lives and works in Philly. My grandmother was diagnosed with throat two years ago and had to get a “stomia”. Because of that she can’t talk anymore. It’s been a long struggle, and she was very sick for a while. She almost even died. Right now she is doing a lot better and very stable health-wise. We also have found ways to communicate with her and our family is doing really well.
Personally, I am trying to spend time with God as much as I can in the morning. I have also been trying to read the Bible more. I would like to be in ministry when I am older and hope to work at the BACC (or a place like it). I am looking forward to going to Bible College after I graduate next year.
I can’t wait to see what the Lord is going to do in my life…
(October 26, 2011)