Luis: Turning obstacles into opportunity

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For most young people, 18 is a special birthday, a milestone into adulthood that brings privileges and freedom. For Luis, turning 18 was the worst thing that ever happened to him…

Life had never been easy for Luis. When he was nine, he and his younger brother were removed from their mother’s home due to neglect. Custody was given to his father and grandmother, but before too long the boys were once again removed by the Department of Children and Families. They spent the next couple of years being bounced between separate foster homes.

Luis was 12 when he came to live at our Roxbury House Group Home. For the first time ever, he was living in a stable environment. He began to trust the staff, realizing that even when he made mistakes, they were there to give him what he needed, whether it was consequences, a nurturing conversation, or even just a consistent presence. For the next six years, the program was his safety net, the closest thing he had to a family and a home.

Then Luis turned 18, which meant he had “aged out” of the state system of care and was too old to continue living at Roxbury House.

Luis wasn’t ready to be on his own; he had nowhere to go, no roadmap for his future. He survived by living off of odd jobs and sleeping on friends’ couches. “When you’re 18 and trying to figure out where to eat and sleep at night, it’s really tough,” said Luis. “I needed to get out of the tornado I was living in.”

Luis began frequently returning to Roxbury House for guidance. He wasn’t sure how to obtain the resources he needed to navigate adulthood, but knew he could seek help from Program Director Lavette Pitts, who was like a mother to him. Although Luis was no longer part of the program, the staff gave him the support he needed to get his life on track, helping him to enroll in a G.E.D. program, and teaching him basic life skills like how to shop for necessities and obtain a Mass Health Card.

Today, Luis, now 20 years old, is working part time as a Direct Care Counselor at Roxbury House, spending the summer as an intern for The Home’s Executive Offices, and getting ready to enter his first year at Bunker Hill Community College. He also just moved into an apartment at The Home’s newest program, Roxbury Village, giving him a place to call home and the stability he needs to focus on his job and school. This young man, who once dreaded life on his own, is now able to look forward to his future.

“I needed to get out of the tornado I was living in.”