Nahdiyah Reaches her Full Potential
Nahdiyah joined My Path Forward (formerly The Possibilities Project) in the summer of 2017. After she had aged out of foster care at age 18 with minimal supports, Nahdiyah spent years in and out of homelessness. She attempted to start her college education but soon found herself unable to maintain her classes on a consistent basis due to financial barriers and unstable housing. Prior to joining the program, unreliable transportation caused her to struggle to maintain the low wage jobs she was working. She was dealing with lots of stress and hardship—personally and within her family. Nahdiyah often put her needs aside to help others. With her education on hold and struggling with the challenges of daily life, any hope of building her future and achieving independence felt miles out of reach.
Nahdiyah finally decided to put herself first and apply for a spot in My Path Forward. In less than two years, Nahdiyah has maintained her job and has received numerous raises and promotions thanks to her stellar performance; in fact, she now makes much more than a living wage. She has obtained her driver’s license and her first vehicle. After finally being able to focus on her education, she is set to complete her college certificate in American Sign Language by the end of the summer. In addition to being able to maintain her classes, a full-time job, and becoming a licensed driver, Nahdiyah was also able to repair her credit, pay off her debt and build savings. Outside of her full-time job, Nahdiyah works as a local and state advocate for other youth who have aged out of foster care or have experienced homelessness. She has also chosen to remain involved with My Path Forward as a peer mentor, helping those who are newer to the program.
With less than two years of stable housing and wrap-around supports, this incredible young woman began to reach her potential and build the foundation for the rest of her adult life. Signing onto her own lease this past July was a surreal and proud moment—not only for Nahdiyah and her loved ones but for her entire CHS family as well. The sky is the limit for her now, and we look forward to following her journey and seeing the countless accomplishments that still lie ahead.
Meet Silas Williams: a Story of Appreciation and Trials.
Silas is a 21-year-old young man who walked away from the Department of Social Service care when he turned 18. He came to My Path Forward through a local DSS as his final option to turn his life around.
He is a father of one child and is unable to have joint custody due to his housing instability. When the team met him he had been living in an abandoned SUV, had only the clothes on his back, two bags, and a small network of supporters willing to help him temporarily.
My Path Forward provided emergency assistance (food, cell phone, basic needs, etc.) while waiting on his background checks to determine program eligibility. His temporary housing ended while My Path Forward was still waiting on his background checks to be returned. With no one else to call, he reached out to My Path Forward and we provided emergency housing at a local hotel so that Silas would not be on the streets over the Holiday weekend. He was admitted to the program and moved into housing shortly thereafter.
When he arrived to the apartments his response was, “Are you serious? I get to live here?” As he toured the apartment Silas struggled to hold back tears in between his countless “thanks you’s.” He has wasted no time in getting his life on track. Since entering My Path Forward, Silas has maintained employment as a cook at a local church and a nearby restaurant and is preparing to pursue a career in Culinary Arts.
He recently de-railed from his path when he got word that his grandmother passed away. His grandmother was one of the last living adult relatives he knew. With little to no family left, he began to spiral into despair. In past years, this type of setback would cause Silas to return to a life of poor decisions and hard consequences. However, his new My Path Forward family has been there to provide support and guidance so that he can continue his motivation to remain on track. My Path Forward is the shoulder he needed to lean on until he was again able to stand strong on his own.
Silas continues to maintain employment, is saving for a car, and has utilized grief counseling services to better cope with the loss of his grandmother. Silas recently announced his desire to connect with other family members so that he can be a support to younger members…like his grandmother tried to be to him.
Jacob’s Journey To a Safe and Loving Family
In many ways, Jacob is a typical 13-year-old who loves playing football and video games and really likes math in school. But behind his big blue eyes are the traumatic memories of the abuse he experienced in the home of his birth mother and her boyfriend. Until the age of 9, Jacob suffered the kinds of physical and emotional abuse that is horrifying to hear about. He often went without food. He was sexually molested. He was beaten and put in a dog crate.
Jacob had no idea what it’s like to live in a safe, loving family—something we believe every child deserves.
Upon his rescue from the abuse by Social Services, Jacob was placed in foster care. Other biological family members, including his father, refused to care for him. And so he lived with little permanence and fading optimism over the next three years, moving among several foster homes as he struggled to live a life shadowed by his abuse and neglect. Even as Jacob came to embrace the idea of adoption, his hopes of finding a family dwindled with every birthday.
When CHS met Jacob, he had begun to consider the reality of turning 18 and “aging
out” of foster care without a family of his own—no one to share Thanksgiving with, no
one to call on Mother’s Day, no one to help him fulfill his dream to go to college, no
one to hug him on his wedding day.
Meanwhile, CHS met John and Maria, who were open to adopting a teenager. They were carefully screened. They went through a 6-week training course to learn about parenting a child with a history of abuse and neglect. They worked with us to determine what they were able to handle as parents. Then they waited. And while they waited, Jacob was also waiting.
Within a year of their first meeting over burgers at Five Guys, John, Maria, and Jacob
made it official—giving Jacob the permanent safe and loving family he had never
known, still hoped for, and thought might never be his.
Today Jacob’s journey continues. Signatures on adoption paperwork don’t erase the years of hurt and trauma Jacob has experienced. He depends on the love and support of his parents to get through every day. And both Jacob and his parents rely on the ongoing expertise and support of CHS to help them build bridges to recovery, by providing counseling, advocating for Jacob at school, and connecting them with other adoptive families and teens who have similar experiences.
Finding Jacob a family of his own was only the beginning for CHS. Our goal now is to help John, Maria, and Jacob create a strong forever family—so they can look forward to celebrating a lifetime of Thanksgiving dinners, Mother’s Day phone calls, and personal milestones together.
Michael’s Hope: Lost and Found
At age 9, Michael was desperate for a new hope. He was living in atrocious conditions—a home
littered with garbage, without reliable electricity or heat, and often without enough food to eat. His father was a bully who severely abused and sexually molested him. Every day was a nightmare, from which it seemed there was no hope of escape.
Once rescued from his abusive home and placed in foster care, Michael thought he would get the second chance he was hoping for. Unfortunately, his hopes continued to fade. As is common, his traumatic background prompted challenging behaviors foster families found difficult to manage. He was shuffled to four homes over the next three years. And in one of those homes, old nightmares returned—he was again victimized by his foster parents. They withheld food. They degraded him. They put up Christmas stockings for their biological children, but not for him.
When CHS met 13-year-old Michael, he had lost hope—his hope of finding a safe, loving family. It was devastating. He didn’t bother with hygiene. He didn’t care about school. He didn’t believe he had a future.
Luckily for Michael, CHS had an adoptive family who was waiting just for him, or so it would seem. Curtis and Michelle were empty-nesters who had time and love to give. They had been through the tough teenage years with three sons, and were ready to commit their strength and patience to getting Michael through those years. They accepted the challenge in hopes of giving this boy the family—and the future—he deserved.
With Curtis and Michelle, and support from CHS, Michael began to blossom. They parented through his trauma. They parented through his behaviors. They parented through to that place in his heart where hope still lived—and he learned to believe in it once again.
Today Michael is a healthy, active 16-year-old who loves being a “typical” teenager. He plays football. He does well in school. And he has dreams for his future—a future with the family he always hoped for.
Finding Hope for Shane and Emily
One Friday night, Shane and his sister Emily were picked up by police for rummaging
through a dumpster. Just 11 and 9 at the time, they were looking for something to quiet the ache they knew all too well—hunger. But Shane and Emily weren’t homeless. They had two parents and a house to come home to.
From the outside, Shane and Emily’s life looked normal. But behind closed doors, they lived in fear. Their father was angry and abusive. He refused to feed them when he believed they were bad—which was most of the time. He locked them in their rooms for hours. And when he was really angry, he started throwing things—from chairs to punches.
After their abuse was reported, their mother was offered the chance to make a new life with the children. When she didn’t take it, Shane and Emily entered foster care. Though they had a new place to live, they were now “parentless.”
Due to the severe abuse, Shane and Emily required intensive care for their behavioral and psychological issues in a residential treatment center. As they healed, they grew older. And as they grew older, they developed new fears. They were afraid the institution would be their future. They feared no one would want to adopt a pair of traumatized teens. And they were
terrified of being separated.
When CHS met Shane and Emily, they were already 15 and 13 and had lost hope they would find a new family together. What they needed was a safe, stable home in which they could build a new future. But they were keenly aware time was running out.
That’s when Abigail contacted CHS to explore becoming an adoptive parent. A single, middle-aged woman, she had never married or had children. She lived a simple, quiet life—maybe too quiet. And that would soon change. She was the perfect match for Shane and Emily. She gave
them the patience and support they needed to thrive. As their trust grew, so did their love. And together they created a new future and a new family—for life.
With Abigail by their side, Shane and Emily are still working through their issues and are doing well today. They are good students. They have friends. And they have hope for their future. In fact, their Friday nights look different, too. Recently Shane and Abigail went to a high school
football game to watch Emily cheer in her first game. Emily did great! And Shane? His mom bought him four hot dogs.