James couldn’t focus on his school work.
He was too busy worrying about his little brother.
As the oldest of three siblings, James was constantly worrying about his family, particularly his brother with autism. His father refused to work and was verbally abusive to his mother, and then one day it happened… the screaming turned into violence. His mother made a decision no mother wants to make – to leave, with no place to go but a shelter.
James had never been able to focus in school because he spent his time helping his younger siblings with their schoolwork instead of doing his own. He was a strong teenager; he felt responsible for his entire family and he didn’t want his mother worrying about him. His mom didn’t have a high school diploma and could only find minimum wage jobs. They barely made ends meet. He saw her struggle and did his very best to step up and “be the man” in the family, making it impossible for him to focus on school and to have other normal teenage experiences.
The family was in the shelter for several weeks, but to James, it felt like an eternity. Finally, his mom told him they would be moving to a new home, a place called HEARTH. She explained that the family would be safe there. They would all go to better schools and there was even more than one room for their family to live in. James was so relieved. “Finally, I felt like I could focus on myself and my own studies. I had a workspace and other quiet places to do my work,” James told our staff. The heavy weight of worrying about his brother’s education was finally lifted.