Nicholas’ life began in hardship, both physically and emotionally, and stayed that way for years. At age 9 he saw his mother commit suicide and had a conflicted relationship with his family: as he says “I was passed around.” Fortunately his grandfather, a strict man, taught Nicholas many skills, such as cooking, doing laundry and yard work, as well as a great work ethic. The chores made Nicholas not afraid to try anything but kept him so busy he had no time to make any friends.
Then things turned bad. For 20 years Nicholas led a life of crime, including selling drugs, and became homeless. He had 2 children, but did not have the focus or the means to be a good father.
Dramatic change came in 2013 when a perceptive parole officer saw potential in Nicholas and recommended he apply to New Hope. Telling his story during the intake process, Nicholas felt understood and in a safe place.
In STRIVE training Nicholas realized he had to change not only himself, but the way he saw other people, and to learn his true capabilities. He says “I heard people with harder stories than mine. They made me think of the phrase ‘I had no shoes but then I saw someone with no feet’ and I was pushed to be accountable like never before.” He learned etiquette, how to dress, and how to carry himself with confidence, as he says, “like a walking billboard.”
He made lasting friendships at New Hope, a huge bonus for someone who felt friendless for so long. Nicholas stays in touch with STRIVE instructor Walter Evans, who he sees as a father figure and whose own story inspires Nicholas to stay focused and motivated.
After STRIVE graduation Nicolas went on to Forklift and Construction Training. This was a good fit as he had a natural capacity for the work, thanks to that head start with his grandfather.
Finding a job was difficult at first for Nicholas because of all the years of unemployment, but finally he landed a position as a carpenter-mechanic. He really loves his job and is taking classes to become a journeyman.
Looking back, Nicholas says he lost relationships with people in the same destructive life style he used to be in. Yet he knows that they have to find their own way out, and that he can’t help everyone.
“My advice to others” says Nicholas “is to set small goals and build up–it will boost your morale. Believe in yourself, and encourage yourself, and no victimizing statements, as they they hold you back.”
Nicholas got married and bought a house a year ago; for the first time ever he is living an independent and self-sustaining life. And a new baby is on the way!
Nicholas’ smile tells it all. Life is totally different now.