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Meet Huck House Youth Award Winner, Ivan Vargas.

Besides being a well-mannered, respectful, hardworking student, Ivan is a model for true perseverance. Three days after his eighteenth birthday, Ivan was arrested for taking a joy ride on a grocery cart scooter. Ivan was booked with a felony charge and encouraged by his public defender to plea out and serve jail time. Ivan did not graduate from high school with his peers. Today, he is on track to graduate in the spring while working full-time at the Spaghetti Warehouse. Although the felony will keep him from joining the military, a life-long dream, Ivan plans to become an auto mechanic. Ivan is unique because he owns his mistakes, blames no one, and takes full responsibility for creating a better life for himself.

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Meet Huck House Youth Award Winner, Tekia Farmer.

Tekia is a high school senior who is exceptional both in and out of the classroom, but she had to overcome a few struggles to get there. As an underclassman at Walnut Ridge, she struggled with grades and had 10 behavior incidences. Now, Tekia has barely had any run-ins with the disciplinary system at school and has started the year with well above a 3.0 GPA. She is on track to receive her diploma in June 2018. Aside from her academic and behavioral improvements, she is very active in her community and has accumulated over 300 hours of community service.

Tekia welcomed a daughter in March 2018 and only missed five school days this year, despite doctors’ appointments and nausea that comes with being pregnant. Tekia’s goals are to enroll into Columbus State in the fall and become a social worker for juveniles. Tekia Farmer’s future looks bright and her daughter has a strong female role model to look up to.

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Meet Huck House Youth Award Winner, Roxanne Johnson.

Roxanne has faced several challenges, including teen pregnancy, mental health issues and one of her biggest challenges, a custody battle with her mother over Roxanne’s daughter. Her cousin recommended she go to Huck House, where she found shelter support at the Crisis Shelter. Roxanne has since completed the Huck House Transitional Living Program and moved into a new apartment. Although saddened that she is unable to see her support system from TLP as often, she is very thankful for her ongoing relationship with Tyia and Kenosha.

Her daughter is her motivation and Roxanne plans to tell her, “No matter what life throws at you, don’t give up.” She also wants to stress the importance of staying focused in school and avoiding outside distractions. Roxanne’s long-term goals are to get back into working, enroll part-time in school, and get a car

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Meet Huck House Youth Award Winner, Kamaury Baskin.

High school can be stressful and isolating, especially for an African-American transgender teenager. As an 8th grade, male student, KaMaury had 27 behavior incidents, and several more in the first years of high school, but as a senior, she has learned to love, trust and believe in herself. Her behavior, attitude and self-confidence have improved tremendously.

KaMaury gets her courage from knowing who she is and not letting anything get her down. Fighting and overcoming adversity in the last couple of years has made her want to keep moving forward and keep a positive attitude. Upon graduation from high school this May, KaMaury wants to get a job and start saving up money so that she can move to California, where she loves the lifestyle and weather. In California, she wants to become a life coach so that she can give back and help other people. KaMaury also wants to write a book, so others can learn from her story.

Although she is not a life coach yet, she has plenty of advice to give to those who may be in a similar situation, “Keep your head up, it’s going to get better and everything happens for a reason.”

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Meet Huck House Youth Award Winner, Pasha Rivers-Johnson.

In the past year, Pasha has faced many barriers but overcome them to reach her goals. Before entering TLP, Pasha gave birth to twins and left an abusive relationship with their father. The abuse also resulted in Pasha leaving college saddled with student loans. Despite being a victim of domestic violence, Pasha remains a kind, caring, respectful and dedicated student and mother. In the fall 2017, Pasha began taking classes at Ohio Dominican University and joined the track and field team. She hopes to become a special education teacher. Pasha has earned the admiration of her peers and counselors because she advocates for herself and other victims of abuse.

 

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Meet Huck House Youth Award Winner, Jhanel McCray.

Jhanel left a violent relationship with her child’s father and has been raising her 2 year old daughter on her own with very little help from friends or family. Jhanel set out to utilize Huck House’s Transitional Living Program to get financially stable, graduate high school, find stable employment and housing while mastering independent living skills so she can live on her own successfully.

Jhanel has made great strides towards her goals. She recently graduated from the Academy for Urban Scholars. She has been steadily employed and has been able to save money to buy a car and increase her savings. Jhanel values employment. Recently, when leaving one job for another, she respectfully gave two weeks’ notice, knowing how important it is to maintain a reputation as a good employee.

Jhanel is positive, outgoing, motivated, hardworking, and a leader amongst her peers. Jhanel hopes to move to her own apartment in the next few months. There is no doubt that Jhanel will continue being successful and will reach whatever goal she sets for herself.

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Meet Huck House Youth Award Winner, Precious Brandon.

Precious became homeless at 17-years-old and was referred to Huck House by her high school teacher. A week after her 18th birthday, Precious moved into her TLP apartment. Before coming to TLP, Precious wanted to give up. She worried daily about where she would sleep at night and didn’t have anyone to talk to about her situation. Since entering the program, she has showed tremendous gratitude, motivation and hard work.

One of her favorite parts about the program is having someone to talk to every week. Hope Brill, who nominated her and meets with her weekly, describes Precious as honest and dedicated to her goals. Precious wants to graduate high school, then attend college, so that she can start a career. She says for anyone struggling with homelessness, the most important thing is to stay focused, “because when you lose your focus, you lose yourself.”

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Meet Huck House Youth Award Winner, Delores Caine.

Delores has survived many challenges in her life. She describes her childhood as “rocky,” explaining that she was raised by her grandmother due to family issues and her father’s violent death. Trauma, poverty, addiction, legal troubles, and family conflict have strongly impacted Delores’ family since she was very young. She shares that her primary goal is to create a better, more stable childhood for her children than she had herself.

Delores’ path to Huck House’s Transitional Living Program included living on the streets. Delores describes sleeping at bus stops and just hoping people would leave her alone when she was asleep. She was always aware of signs telling her life would get better. The kindness of others has always been a sign for her. Delores’ own kindness and thoughtfulness are some of her core qualities and are evident in her interactions with her family, peers in the program, and staff members. She even took the time to write notes to her support team thanking them for believing in her.

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Meet Huck House Youth Award Winner, Rafael Castro.

Soon to be the first in his family to graduate high school, Rafael is a hard-working young man who has had to rely on self-motivation to get him through school. He has emerged as a leader in the Be The One program at Walnut Ridge High School, he holds a part time job, and he plays soccer year-round. Soccer has become central to Rafael’s life and he applies the lessons he learned on the field to his everyday life. He values teamwork, mental-toughness and helping others. After graduation, he hopes to go to college and play soccer. Beyond college, Rafael wants to return to his native country, El Salvador, to build a soccer field for underprivileged children.

At only eighteen, Rafael is already giving back to his community, he says, “If I can use these two hands to help pass out food, I’ll do it.” He has a mature outlook on helping others and hopes adults and other youth will look around them and realize ways to help their community. Rafael deserves recognition for his resiliency and compassion in a world of political uncertainty for immigrants.

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Meet Huck House Youth Award Winner, Chyla Larry.

Chyla came to Huck House due to problems with her relationship with her mother. She describes her past behavior as “aggressive” due to stress with family and school. When she first came to Huck House, she struggled with communication, but she has improved tremendously. “I talk a lot now,” Chyla says with a chuckle. One of her proudest accomplishments is that she can have conversations with people. She attributes this to her personal growth and now having a lot more confidence in herself. Chyla is also proud of her improvement with her behavioral management.

Since she has been at her new school, Chyla has managed to control her anger and stay out of trouble. She is very thankful to her grandfather for being a major part of her support system. Chyla says her naysayers motivate her and fuel her to achieve her goals. She plans to attend college to become a social worker.