When Patrick moved to Brevard with his family seven years ago, he was almost entirely non-verbal and had trouble making eye contact with even his peers. Patrick is on the autism spectrum and is challenged by significant developmental disabilities.
Patrick began attending programs at Brevard Achievement Center where he was exposed to life skills training, computer classes, empowerment programs and performing arts. His teachers and mentors saw him improve so dramatically that they advocated for him to begin training for possible employment opportunities. During his vocational training, Patrick and his father joined BAC staff in Tallahassee to advocate for himself and his peers with our legislators.
The first time Patrick approached a state representative, looked him in the eye, shook his hand and told him his name in a clear, confident voice, his father became so emotionally overwhelmed he had to step from the room. He told BAC staff that he never would have thought Patrick capable of this level of interaction and professionalism. BAC had truly helped his son reach levels well beyond what he thought possible.
This year, Patrick achieved a milestone that most of us take for granted but that his family never believed possible for him - he accepted a job in the community. Patrick works for a local law firm, providing data input of technical legal findings into specialized software. He eats lunch with his co co-workers who joke with him; he asks others about their day; he holds eye contact when someone is talking with him. He is empowered and successful at work!
Growing up, Alex was unsupported at home. Her mom, an alcoholic who was also addicted to pills, struggled to provide for many of her basic needs and was little in the way of a positive influence. Despite these challenges, Alex was extremely motivated in school. She was an honor student and worked hard to maintain her grades. She frequently stayed late at school when she needed help or tutoring, even though it meant missing the bus and walking the 5 miles home.
After graduating, she was determined to find a job and become self-sufficient so she began working as a CNA. Finances were tight, but she was surviving. It was when she had her son that things began to fall apart. “I felt like every month I was having to choose between paying rent and getting food for us to eat.” She struggled to keep her head above water and pay her bills, but she knew she needed to make a change. When she began looking for a roommate to share expenses, she found Brevard Rescue Mission (BRM).
BRM provided her with the stability and foundation she’d been craving her whole life. “For the first time in my life, I felt like I had a Mom. I was always so afraid to show anyone how alone I was, but I needed to become my own person and learn how to adult.” Through counseling and case management, Alex learned the tools she needed to create stability and a better life for herself and her family. BRM taught her how to plan and budget and manage her finances. They also helped her to set goals and plan a career path that included benefits and better wages – things she never learned from her mom.
Alex now works a high-tech job, with plans to continue her education and pursue an engineering degree. She hasn’t forgotten the help from BRM. In fact, she frequently goes back to mentor and give hope to the current clients. Thanks to you, this young family - Alex, Kyle and their two children are now living on their own and well on their way to long-term self-sufficiency. With a just a little help from their community, they are building the foundation for their family that Alex never had.
You first met Daisha six years ago as a member of Club Esteem, a partner agency that inspires youth to embrace higher education.
Back in high school Daisha understood that education was a necessary building block for a successful life. As a high school junior, she started mentoring younger kids at Club Esteem. Making a little bit of money and tutoring elementary and middle school kids sounded like a winning combination to Daisha. “I always wanted to go to college and Club Esteem helped make my dreams a reality.”
The staff encourages and supports all students in pursuing higher education. They stay on top of teens to fill out college applications, go on campus visits, and give them the resources to get volunteer hours and letters of recommendation. “I didn’t come from a wealthy family, and I know education is the way for me to break the chain of poverty,” says Daisha. “I’m the first in my family to attend college.” Thanks to scholarships, her tuition costs were fully covered.
"I went off to FAU in the fall of 2013 and I graduated with a bachelor in health sciences and I graduated with honors there. I had my gold cord. And then I attended UCF where I graduated with my masters with honors. Thank you for supporting me. Thank you for rooting for me and thank you for making the resources available so I was able to reach my goals,” says Daisha.