Darryl was one of the featured guests at the 2017 Home Again Luncheon. He is now the President of the Youth Action Board. This is his moving speech from the luncheon:
I will start with a quote from an unknown author “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying. I will try again tomorrow.” From a young age I knew I wanted something better. I don’t know what could have caused it. Maybe it was me going to work endlessly. Maybe it was because my dad wasn’t around. Maybe it was because my mom asked me to leave her house and I had nowhere to go. I thought I might have had people I could count on to help me out. My brother couldn’t help. Aunts and uncles were never around, so the only other option was my grandparents. I didn’t really have a good relationship with them because of my father but hey… when you need a place to sleep you realize anyone can become family overnight.
Leaving home changed me. I was so young but I needed to ask myself the hard questions some adults can’t answer. “What do I want?”, “How can I get it?” I knew I couldn’t let my situation harden me and that I needed to conform to my surroundings and help myself. I was working all the time and that was around the time my grandparents asked me to leave. They asked me to leave because I wasn’t able to pay the rent. I needed money for the bus, food and other living expenses but they couldn’t understand. I didn’t want to argue, so I left to go stay with a friend of mine. I was about to graduate high school and I knew I wanted to go to college. But by that time, I still had no car to get around and had to take 3 city buses just to get to school. It was a major struggle but graduating meant so much to me. I would be the first to graduate in my family. My older brother didn’t and it just seemed like it wasn’t a big deal to people. I felt like they kinda wanted to see me fail or give up and become a stereotype. I am not a stereotype! I graduated! That summer when I was staying with my friends, I got a car because college was still the goal. I started working a full-time job just to pay for it. I was paying $757 for my car note and insurance not including food, rent and other living expenses. It worked for a while… well the whole summer. I had to start college and I could no longer do both. My choice was homelessness or working with no time for college. I chose to work but could not keep up with my expenses and lost my car and subsequently my job. I was back at the beginning, so I prayed a lot.
I knew I needed to go back to school again and I just didn’t see how it was going to work. I was living with a different friend now but I knew it wasn’t going to last forever, so I started working again. By now I learned nothing’s ever going to be just handed to you no matter what. I started to feel a little hopeless because I started thinking why did all this happen to me. Did I do something wrong? Am I a bad person or something? Why can’t I just get help? Then BOOM!! I heard about the New Heights Program from someone at the Take Stock in Children scholarship program. I thought whoa…. You’re joking right? There’s actually a place like this? I was praying and God heard me. I filled out an application, had an interview and moved in the same day. I remember having such a feeling of relief. I didn’t have to walk aimlessly at night thinking what is my next move to have a place to stay and something to eat? It was something stable and safe and I hadn’t felt that in a while. I have a place of my own… wow. That was my exact thought when she gave me the key. New Heights gave me the opportunity to go back to school without financial stress. I’m enrolled at Suncoast Technical College in their Surgical Tech Program. Take Stock in Children scholarship paid for my tuition and the George W and Ethel Hoeffer scholarship through the Community Foundation paid for my books. The weight is lifted off my shoulders and I feel like I can breathe with a sound mind. All thanks to Harvest House.
I honestly don’t know where I’d be If it wasn’t for the New Heights program. They are helping me reach the goals I have only dreamed about. They are helping me set goals for my little brother and little sister. I want them to see that no matter what happens, things get easier. Harvest House makes things easier. I’m so glad there’s an organization that cares for their community. I reflect on my life and I’m so thankful for everyone who has helped me and everything that has happened. I look to the future and don’t reflect negatively on the past because my past led me to my present blessings. I pray that other young adults are led to this program and that they no longer feel alone.