David* is a leader. David is a young man regarded by his peers at Epworth as someone to emulate, a friend to look up to. David is a hard worker with his mind set on a future that will lead to a career in science. David is industrious, always looking for things to do to help others. David is unfailingly polite to everyone around him.
The remarkable thing about David is that he is such an outstanding 19-year-old young man despite the difficult life that he has had. Before coming to Epworth two years ago, David had gone to eight different schools, including three different high schools, and had experienced a tumultuous family situation that resulted in a great deal of instability and stress. Many of us would have become discouraged and wary after the burdens of such a hard early life, yet David has always looked forward, with a clear eye on his future.
When David arrived at Epworth to live, he was getting ready to enter his senior year in high school. He had already been to three different secondary schools and had also been thwarted by the pandemic which had forced him to take most of his classes online. As a result, he began his senior year of high school behind in the number of credits he would need to graduate on time.
David did not let this challenge overwhelm him. Working carefully with the academic counselors at Epworth and Dreher High School’s guidance department, David was given the opportunity to double up on some of his classes, taking on a heavier academic load. While most high school seniors complete the majority of their requirements for graduation during their sophomore and junior years, and take an easier class load their senior year, David was working harder than ever to take on extra academic work so that he had enough credits to graduate.
His hard work was successful; David graduated from Dreher on time this past spring. This is quite an accomplishment for a young man whose life has been filled with such huge challenges. It is also an accomplishment that has not gone unrecognized at Epworth. Tameka Massey, David’s case manager in Epworth’s Center for Independent Living, praises David as, “someone all the other kids look up to, a young man who has learned to advocate for himself in describing what he needs to do to succeed.” Ms. Massey continues to say that, “David looks for things to do to help others; he genuinely cares about his fellow residents at Epworth. He is also so polite and mannerly and sets a fine example for others.”
Since graduating from high school, David has moved on to live at Epworth’s Center for Independent Living, a place on campus where older youth can live more on their own and have an opportunity for support in attending college, receiving job skills training, and life skills education so that life on their own someday will be easier. David has already gotten settled in his new campus home and has a job for the summer. The Center for Independent Living staff members are also working with David to help him get his Social Security card and to help him take driver’s education classes so that he can get his driver’s permit before the summer ends.
This fall David will attend Midlands Technical College where he hopes to begin his study for a career in some aspect of science. Recognizing David’s hard academic work at Dreher, his leadership at Epworth, and his potential for success in life, the Joy Sunday School class at Shandon United Methodist Church just awarded David a scholarship to help with his college expenses. In amazement and appreciation for this support, David said, “I was so happy that they thought I could do the work at college and be successful there. I will never forget their help.”
As David prepares to begin this next important stage in his young life, he reflected back on his first days at Epworth and said, “When I got to Epworth, I felt like part of a family, a real family, for the first time, and I felt that way from the very beginning. Everybody made me feel so comfortable from the start and I knew everybody was there to help me.”