A Double Rainbow in the Storm

Looking for some good news during this Covid-19 pandemic and shutdown? Look no further than to Saint John’s Program for Real Change and two young former residents of the program… Athena and Dwayne – both now high school seniors – both heading on to great things after living at Saint John’s with their moms, former clients in our program.

Athena is a senior at Grant High School, and after being accepted to 11 different colleges, she has plans to accept a full academic scholarship to St. Mary’s College. Just two years ago, Athena and her mom, Felicia, were homeless while Felicia struggled with addiction. They were accepted into Saint John’s, and she credits the program with saving her mom and giving herself hope for the future. Athena says the program is so great, though strict, but “worth it in the end.” She says her mom is “alive today because of the program being a drug-free facility.” It gave Athena and her mom a “safe haven.”

Grateful to the staff and volunteers, Athena says they make such a great difference, and she wants to be able to one day return and “do the same.” Felicia just graduated from Saint John’s Program for Real Change, and, as of February 29, they have their own apartment and are on their own and doing well. Athena wants to study mathematics in hopes of being a teacher.

Dwayne is currently attending Antelope High School where he is active in athletics. His good grades and football prowess have earned him a full four-year scholarship to the California State University system. Due to the rising cost of housing, Dwayne has opted to study his first two years at Sierra College so that he can live at home with his mom Jessica, who is a former Saint John’s client and now an employee on the Client Services staff. Dwayne will then select from one of the four universities that offered him full scholarships to finish his degree.

Several years ago, Dwayne could not have envisioned such a hopeful future. Living on the streets, Dwayne and Jessica were helped by a police officer who was able to guide them to Saint John’s Program for Real Change. That was the beginning of their journey and the end of “always running.” His mom, he recalls, no longer had to worry or be “sad all the time.” On their own for over ten years now, Dwayne and Jessica have a future that looks bright. Dwayne plans to be a police officer because he was inspired by the officer who helped get his mom get “off the streets.” He wants to be a good husband and dad and make a difference in the lives of others, and he gives thanks to Saint John’s for giving his mom the help she so desperately needed.

We wish Dwayne and Athena all the success in the world as they pursue their future and make our world a better place!

By Ellen Gemma, Guest Blogger and Volunteer, Former Asst. Principal, Jesuit High School, Former Principal, St. John the Evangelist School

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