Kiwanis and his family had just settled into a new apartment when the 19-year-old’s world was turned upside down. “The landlord said, ‘Your oldest son is too old to stay with you,’” Kiwanis says. “I came home from school that day and my mom told me I couldn’t stay there. I left and started walking.”
The high school senior was suddenly homeless. “I was sleeping on the streets. I would go to my mom’s in the morning and get dressed and head off to school, but I wouldn’t go to school. I’d roam around. If I did go to school, I would cut classes,” he says. “When school started, I was doing pretty good with all of my classes, but I fell off…and was worried that I wouldn’t graduate.”
Kiwanis’ mom suggested he go to the Allentown Rescue Mission, and he reluctantly agreed. But it was here he found the support that would change his life, beginning with the summer school class he’d have to complete for graduation. “Everybody in the Mission was helping me,” he says. “I really thank them because if they had not been there, I don’t think I would’ve gotten it done.”
When the class was over, Kiwanis entered the Mission’s Christian Living Program. “If you want to test your faith with Jesus Christ, this is the program for you…you learn something new every day,” he says.
“I used to hate this place before the Lord changed my heart. I didn’t care for anything. I really was ungrateful. I would get mad so quickly.I didn’t like to be told what to do. I am proud to say that I am a changed person now.”
Graduating from high school and the Christian Living Program has helped Kiwanis believe in himself. “I never thought I would be able to do anything like this. For me to have gone through this program and graduated tells me that I am capable and can do anything if I put my mind to it,” he says. “I’m going into the Navy.”
To read the rest of the issue of Tidings, click here.