I Changed

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Horrible. That’s how Markus describes his tumultuous life as a teenager.

Markus was forced to move frequently as his mother was doing what she could to keep a roof over his head, but she consistently struggled to make ends meet. The family bounced around living with other family members and friends. They eventually sought help from a local shelter.

Markus’ father, who was absent from his life periodically, was also a source of instability for the teenager. He served jail time for law violations, leaving a void where a positive male role model was badly needed.

Life in the classroom wasn’t any better. Markus was often suspended from school and admittedly spent lots of time sleeping in class.

With uncertainty permeating every aspect of Markus’ life, he soon found himself heavily involved in a local gang and succumbing to a group of influential negative peers.

“I was on the wrong path,” said Markus. “I didn’t care, didn’t listen. I didn’t accept feedback or consequences. I was always complaining and blaming someone else for my problems.”

Markus’ troubles came to a head in the fall of 2016 when he stood before a judge facing charges of being a minor in possession of a handgun. However, these charges would become a blessing in disguise as they are what brought Markus to Omaha Home for Boys where he began to turn his life around.

Finally in an environment that brought security and caring adults into his life, Markus’ true potential began to shine.

Markus formed a close bond with his Life Skills Teachers (f.k.a. House Parents), Jacob and Miah Sanders, and he was eager to accept their guidance and feedback in order to earn more privileges. He especially enjoyed going on outdoor adventures, fishing, swimming, and playing basketball with the Sanderses and his peers, activities that weren’t a part of Markus’ life before his time at the Home.

Markus also began excelling in the classroom at the Omaha Home for Boys School. He received individualized academic support, gained effective positive reinforcement, and learned appropriate behavioral skills. He worked hard, changed his attitude toward academics, and took extremely detailed notes. During the seven months he studied at the Omaha Home for Boys School, he recovered 15 school credits, more credits than a typical high school student earns during an entire academic school year.

“When Markus first came to our school, he appeared to lack confidence and motivation,” said Omaha Home for Boys’ Education Manager, Dr. Anthony Dancer. “As time passed, he began to gain confidence and was very proud to finally be recognized for positive accomplishments. Markus even became a young man that I was able to point out as a role model to other youth.”

Markus’ dedication paired with the guidance he received at Omaha Home for Boys proved to be a winning combination. When Markus stood before the judge at his next hearing, he was praised by all for his determination to make better choices and for his leadership skills. The judge even noted that he’d been sitting on the bench for a number of years but didn’t recall a time when he had heard such affirmative reviews of a young man.

What did Markus have to say in response to all of the positive recognition? Simply, “I changed.”

Markus has resolved to leave his old habits in the past and focus on a better future, his first goal being to graduate high school.

“If I hadn’t come to OHB, my life would still be horrible,” said Markus. “I wouldn’t be caught up on my school credits. I’d probably still be running the streets doing dumb stuff. Now I feel like whatever I dream of, it’s going to come true.”


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