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Starting with Just One Foot

Jay began Project HIRE as a young man who had faced a lifetime of difficulties in his 16 short years. His mother had passed away earlier in the year, and due to a variety of circumstances, was unable to live with his father. Jay had moved to Lincoln with a family member and was struggling to put one foot in front of the other on a daily basis.

I will never forget his first day of Project HIRE. It was clear that he was doing his best to cope with all of the recent changes in his life, and that he was scared and nervous to in this new environment. Jay needed to be able to get himself to and from the HUB on the bus, but didn’t know the first thing about riding the bus in Lincoln, so equipped with a bus pass and flanked by two HUB staffers, Jay took his first ride on the bus and began to take steps forward.

I don’t think he made eye contact with anyone for the first 2 or 3 days that he was here, but soon, he began to open up, and eventually he was able to relax and laugh even though we were constantly telling him: “Jay, pull your pants up!” Jay continued to ride the bus to the HUB every day for programming and on the day he was offered a job, he was thrilled to come in and tell us about his latest success (but not before he was reminded again to “Pull up those pants Jay!). He also expressed sadness that he “couldn’t come to the HUB every day anymore.” Jay was also interested in starting work on earning his GED, and even though he could have attended classes much closer to his home, Jay decided that he would like to take his classes at the HUB. I asked him why he wouldn’t take them at SCC which would be a 10-minute bus ride as opposed to almost an hour on the bus, and he said “Because I feel comfortable here. You guys are nice to me and help me.” Jay still attends GED classes at the HUB, and is currently ready to take 3 of the 5 tests that he needs in order to earn his GED. Jay continues to put one foot in front of the other, and more often, I see him moving forward with his head up and making eye contact with his future.

Update May 2011: Jay completed his GED, and is looking into taking some college courses.