Benjamin’s Story

Tuesday, January 29th, 2019
Boy Walking Alone

This is the story of Benjamin.

In 2014, Benjamin and his sisters were placed at CCTXP’s emergency shelter, the Pearl Longbine Cottage. He was 16-years-old and the oldest of the siblings. With a mother caught in the grip of drug addiction, they were familiar with feeling of instability. The family was often homeless, drifting in and out of hotel rooms as they could. The mother frequently panhandled for food and money, with the children usually at her side.

Except for Benjamin.

Benjamin told us in no uncertain terms, that he felt it was important to work for what you have.

He had goals.

A Goal for a Better Life

Of these goals was to graduate high school and attend college. He had set this goal for himself in 5th grade when he became a participant in the ACE program. This AISD scholarship program for students attending Title 1 schools is calibrated by regular school attendance and passing grades. The program allows for only two unexcused absences a semester, any more than two and the student is disqualified from receiving the scholarship.

As a student at Caprock High School, Benjamin made sure he was in class every day. Riding his bike in the coldness that comes at dawn, there were times he covered a distance of 10 miles to reach campus without a second thought. For Benjamin, he knew there was no distance that he would not cover.

Benjamin understood that with every day he spent in a classroom, he inched closer to graduation; inched closer to the ACE scholarship; inched closer to college and beyond.

He knew that every day spent in school meant that he was one step further away from his haunting reality of panhandling, the homelessness, and the blur of hotel rooms.

For this teenage boy, every precious day spent in school meant having a chance at a better life.

Homeless with Perfect Attendance

Upon his arrival at the Emergency Youth Shelter, he drew the attention of staff and administrators with his markedly reserved and respectful demeanor along with demonstrating a maturity that belied his young age. He quickly came to us and disclosed his biggest concern about being placed at the shelter: his ability to remain enrolled at Caprock.

As a Junior, it was imperative that he remain in attendance at Caprock in order to attain the ACE scholarship upon graduation. Shelter administrators were able to ensure his continued enrollment as part of their ongoing support for protocols they follow to sustain the existing stability had by the youths placed in emergency care.

So, Benjamin continued onward towards his goal.

A Newfound Stability

Boy Walking down school hall

Some time later, Benjamin and his sisters were given secure placement at Amarillo’s Children’s Home and a date was set to discharge the group from the shelter. This placement was good news in itself, as it meant the siblings would remain together with the opportunity to stay at ACH until their graduation. Further, if they enrolled in college, they would be given the opportunity to remain at ACH as part of their Transitional Living Program. This was exactly what Benjamin would need once he hit his first goal of graduating high school and moved towards his college enrollment.

He was able to take full part of his placement with ACH without having his enrollment at Caprock disrupted due to the partnership between our Emergency Youth Shelter and AISD’s Families in Transition, which provides transportation and lunch services for all resident youths. This arrangement allows for those placed with us to remain at their home school and maintain that stability they so need.

back of head of graduating

One Down, One More To Go

With his transportation and ongoing school attendance secured, Benjamin happily made the transition from the shelter to the Amarillo Children’s Home. Once there, the teenage boy settled in to his new home and allowed himself to flourish in his newfound stability and calm surroundings.

Highly adaptable and eager to thrive on his blossoming new life and opportunities, Benjamin quickly moved to the ACH Transitional Living Home shortly after his admission into the program there.

He graduated from Caprock High School in May 2016 while maintaining his ACE scholarship.

He is now a freshman at Amarillo College.

A Life of Opportunities

Every day, Benjamin covers the distance in the cold dawn to reach his classroom, just as he did just several years before. But this time, he does not brave the elements while riding a bicycle; this time, he covers the distance to campus with his hands guiding the wheel of the car he had bought after a year of working and saving.

In the golden light of the new sun, Benjamin glows as he has one goal behind him, and has the fruits of his own hard labor carrying him towards his second one. The cool air of morning light is sweet and crisp as it illuminates the road ahead.

He feels in his bones that he has at long last left behind the sorrow of his former life. He no longer has to feel the bleak sorrow of a life colored by panhandling, homelessness, and the blur of hotel rooms.

For the first time in his life, Benjamin feels joy and hope for the future in his bones. And as he parks his car and walks to class, he feels unbridled gratefulness for the programs and organizations that held out their opportunities for him to grasp.

Benjamin is ready for class.

Benjamin is ready for the rest of his life.