Maurionte is only seventeen years old, but he has already faced enough struggles to fill a lifetime.
The victim of a childhood filled with instability, Maurionte watched hopelessly as his mother was caught in the grip of drug addiction. He didn’t have a consistent, positive male role model in his life and struggled with behavioral issues. He eventually found himself living with different family members and in multiple foster homes.
As if all of this wasn’t enough for a child to bear, Maurionte was also diagnosed with an incurable medical condition that, even today, finds him making frequent stays at the hospital.
“To say that Maurionte was stretched thin doesn’t even begin to describe it,” said Keenan Page, Maurionte’s Independent Living Specialist at Branching Out, Omaha Home for Boys’ Independent Living Program.
Maurionte finally caught a break in April 2016 when he was introduced to Keenan at Branching Out. Maurionte worked with Keenan to develop an independent living plan that would lead him away from his troubled past toward a future as a productive, self-sufficient adult. An initial step in this plan was to set goals, the first of which was to gain employment.
Through the diligent coaching and consistent follow-up from Keenan, Maurionte was able to accomplish his first goal. He found custodial work and later started working at a local grocery store, a position he still holds today.
Next, Maurionte needed to focus on finding reliable transportation. Just as it is for many of Branching Out’s clients, this proved to be quite challenging. In fact, according to Keenan, the number one problem that most Branching Out clients face is access to dependable, affordable transportation.
“We had worked hard to help Maurionte connect many of the dots,” said Keenan. “He was excelling at school, addressing many of his behavioral issues and had become a stellar employee, but there was still a large obstacle when it came to transportation.”
To get to school, work and crucial medical appointments, Maurionte relied on rides from friends and his foster parents, rode the school bus, or utilized public transportation – none of which were a consistent, long-term solution.
The solution to the transportation issue plaguing Maurionte came in the form of a new partnership between Omaha Home for Boys and Chariots4Hope. The Home had recently become a referring organization for Chariots4Hope, an Omaha-based nonprofit that collects and restores donated vehicles and awards them to low-income families and individuals. Maurionte was the perfect candidate for a vehicle.
Maurionte and Keenan set to work and shortly after they filled out the Chariots4Hope application, Keenan received word that Maurionte would be awarded a Chevy sedan at a surprise ceremony! The bright and sunny weather on September 8 was the ideal backdrop when Maurionte first saw his car. True to his reserved, quiet nature, Maurionte humbly accepted the keys to his car adorned with a giant red bow.
With a set of wheels to call his own, Maurionte is thriving. He is able to safely and promptly get to school, appointments and his part-time job. Having his own transportation has empowered him to become a confident, self-sufficient young man with a new outlook on his future – one that includes completing high school and going to college.
Being a car owner has helped open doors that Maurionte once thought were impossible to unlock.
About Branching Out
Branching Out is Omaha Home for Boys Independent Living Program that serves current and former foster care youth as well as other at-risk youth ages 14 to 24. Youth work with Branching Out’s Independent Living Specialists to create a personalized independent living plan that will help guide the youth toward living a productive life as a self-sufficient adult. Young adults in Branching Out have access to education assistance and scholarships, employability training, housing assistance, life skills coaching, and transportation assistance.
How You Can Help
Are you inspired by Maurionte’s story? Your tax-deductible gift to Omaha Home for Boys can help other young men like Maurionte overcome barriers to safe, reliable transportation.
Your gift of $375 can provide access to one driver’s education course.
Investing just $55 can provide a 30-day bus pass to one young man or woman.
Giving $30 can provide a gift card for fuel for a youth.
Your gift of $10 can pay for one learner’s permit or driver’s license fee for one youth.