An amazing and powerfully positive story from here in Payson, AZ
Big thanks to friends John and Janet Z. here in Payson for passing me a copy of the Payson Roundup from Tuesday, May 24th. Because I want to include much of this news story I have left it a few days so as not seen too directly as a copyright infringement.
This is how the story unfolds,
Homeless teens triumph against odds
Graduation nears for students who persevered despite chaos and carnage
May 24, 2011
In the summer after fifth-grade, Payson Herring found himself on the streets, living behind dingy car washes and eating stale food out of dumpsters. With both of his parents in jail and no one to look after him, he barely survived.
When he did show up to school, he was dirty, smelly and his attitude stunk worse than his clothes. Herring didn’t worry about high school graduation, he just wanted to make it through another night.
Yes, young Mr. Herring’s first name is Payson, presumably named after the town. The article continues,
Meanwhile, for Emerald “Emi” Stacklie, after living through three of her mother’s failed suicide attempts and two of her own, life remains chaotic as a homeless student. She continues to bounce from one friend’s couch to another, and often spends the night in her truck.
The only stability she found in life came when she met her fiancé a year ago, but like her childhood, that was also ripped away. Five months ago, her fiancé died in a car crash that left Stacklie two weeks in the hospital for her own injuries.
Both Herring and Stacklie continue to face circumstances most teens will never dream of, but despite hardships — that include incarcerated or addicted parents, homelessness, medical conditions and tragedy — both have so far beaten the odds.
From the outside, both teens look normal, with designer-laced clothing and beautiful smiles, but what they have gone through is unbelievable.
Both teens agreed to an interview, hoping other homeless teens will come forward sooner for help. Payson High School has resources, including housing for homeless teens through the Payson Assisting Displaced Students (PADS) program launched last year.
The rest of the story may be read here. I’m going to cut straight to the closing paragraphs.
With the support of friends and his teammates, Herring has developed a new perspective.
No longer angry with his past, Herring began focusing on the future. He worked hard at football, put more effort into schoolwork and stayed away from drugs and alcohol.
Herring used his past to help shape what he was becoming.
“I am not even mad at my parents,” he said. “There is nothing they can do now about the past. What matters now is what happens in the future and what I do. I am making my future brighter.”
Herring has plans to adopt “at least three kids.” Using his own experiences, Herring said he could handle just about any child. “I want kids to grow up realizing alcohol does bad things,” he said.
Recently, Herring even reconciled with his father.
While Herring and Stacklie still struggle, both are graduating May 26 along with 163 Payson High classmates. Both have plans for their futures — Herring to serve in the military and eventually become a police officer and Stacklie will start work at a hospital as an LPN.
“I am very, very proud,” Oakland said. “We will miss them.”
Herring and Stacklie defied the odds and “bottom-line beat the system,” she added.
These are very tough young people who will see in time that combating these sorts of major hurdles will give them a self-confidence and self-pride that is beyond measure. Well done to you, Payson and Stacklie.