Success Stories

Names have been changed.

Boys House
Anthony entered the Detention Alternative Program (DAP) as an angry 16 year-old with a history of domestic violence, alcohol abuse, and truancy. Anthony was given many chances by the juvenile court, but had not taken advantage of them.
When he entered the DAP, he was sure that we did not like him and would not give him a chance, that he was being set up to fail. Because of the many chances Anthony had been given and the many times he had failed, he seemed doomed to another failure with the next step commitment to the Department of Juvenile Corrections. One of the things that Anthony said he lacked and needed was a male role model. Anthony found that role model in one of the staff members.

Anthony also had a problem with accepting people of other races, yet the person he chose as his mentor and role model was of another race. Anthony learned tolerance and acceptance from this relationship and continues to stay in contact with this staff member.
Through family counseling, Anthony and his mother resolved many of their issues and the violence in the home disappeared. While Anthony and his mom will always disagree, they now disagree with words instead of physical violence. Anthony was also able to resolve many of the issues he had regarding his father and his parents divorce.

Today, Anthony is a 19 year-old high school graduate, a community college student, has a steady girlfriend, lives in a violence-free home, and is able to ask for help when he needs it. Although Anthony graduated from Tumbleweed three years ago, he has stayed in touch and was able to ask for our help when an issue came up that he couldn’t handle on his own.
Anthony and his mother realized that things in their relationship were escalating to an unacceptable level and returned to Tumbleweed for a “booster” session. They were able to refresh some of the skills they had learned and return to solving problems on their own.

Phoenix Drop-In Center
Anna came to the Pappas Place Drop in Center in February, 2004. Anna was pregnant, living at a half way house and trying to stay off drugs. She had to find a job to be able to pay for housing but she could not have a job because she did not have a State I.D. or birth certificate and she dropped out of school. Anna came to Phoenix for support and to find resources.
With the support of her case manager, Anna is now living in her own apartment and has been able to stay off drugs. Anna has a full time job, is enrolled in the WIA program, and has obtained both, birth certificate and state I.D. She is also trying to work in her GED. Anna is a mom to be who will be able to provide good care and life to her new baby.

John was referred to the Start Program by his high school guidance counselor. He had been repeatedly abandoned by his mother for weeks at a time, and then he moved in with his grandmother only to get kicked out. This young man was able to still graduate from high school and follow through with the requirements to get into the Start Program.

After entering into the Start Program, he began going to college and was accepted into the Honor’s Program. Not only is he doing very well in school and maintaining his grades, but he has maintained his employment. John has also continued to follow through with all the requirements of the program, attending groups, case management sessions and special events without ever being late. He keeps his apartment clean and does all the other independent living skills of daily life. He also has been able to develop some very healthy relationships and been able to let go of past ones which were unhealthy. John does all of this and has a positive outlook on life.

Open Hands
James came to Open Hands at age 16, seeming very isolated and angry. He hadn’t been to school since sixth grade. His mother was addicted to drugs; his brothers were in gangs and/or in jail (with children being raised without them). He participated in our program until he was able to transfer to Project Challenge military school. He returned to Open Hands after graduation since he considered us “home.” Armed with a GED, he was able to get his first job. He transitioned to YAP, where he stayed until he turned 18 and joined the army. He left us as an outgoing, confident young man.

Casa de Sueńos
Jose was 16 years old when he entered the program. He arrived to the United States from El Salvador. He was fleeing harassment by gangs in El Salvador. The gangs in El Salvador would not let him attend school. They would push him around; they would try to intimidate him into joining the gangs. He decided to leave his country by way of train. He rode the trains from the south of Mexico to the north of Mexico. Jose was apprehended on the border of Mexico and Arizona. Jose was sent to our program where he initially was reserved and quiet. After a few weeks he flourished in school and here in the program. He was the first to want to help cook meals and to want to attend shows. Jose learned how to speak English fluently and he was excited to learn about our American culture. He was eventually adopted by a family in the United States. He still keeps in touch. Jose is attending school here in the United States and he is even more fluent in English. When he calls to say hello he catches some staff off guard because his English is so clear. His goal is to become a doctor and to help people in his country.

Learning Center
Tammy came to our program at the tender age of 14. She was not attending to school, addicted to several illegal drugs and found herself homeless due to the fact that her mother was a drug abuser as well. It was then she entered our Open Hands and was referred to our Tumbleweed Regional Learning Center school were she began to test out of the eighth grade to complete junior high. From then she started high school here and registered for our workforce development program where she received training to become work ready and completed several internships after that. She now sits on the Tumbleweed Youth Advisory Board, created and presented a workshop on “Adultism”, traveled to San Francisco for Community Youth Development Learning Resource Team Workshop, and is helping raise money to travel to Washington to attend The National Network for Youth. She currently has a stable living situation as she is on the waiting list to join the Tumbleweed Young Adult Program, still attending The Tumbleweed Regional High School and now that she just turned 16 she will be looking for employment opportunities.

Young Adult Program
Okay, remember yourself at 16. What were you doing? You were probably going to high school, doing huge amounts of homework, maybe participating in school groups or activities, and struggling through the trials of adolescence. Now, add parenting a two-year old child into the mix of your activities. That is where Alicia* found herself, except that she had to drop out of high school at 16 to take care of her son. And she had no where to turn.
Alicia was referred to Tumbleweed’s Young Adult Program (YAP) by the Scottsdale Police Department. Because she was 16 years old and homeless, she qualified for a bed at YAP and began a new lifestyle that included structure, supervision, and guidance. And it was hard to handle. She wasn’t used to having to account for herself to adults that care and really struggled with this new concept. Eventually, Alicia left the program and struck out on her own again.

Shortly thereafter Alicia again needed help and contacted our START program. START, an acronym for Supported Transitional Apartment, Resources and Training, which helps young adults gain independence through living expense subsidy and case management. When she entered START, Alicia met with a case manager to set up an action plan. Before she could enter the program she had to get a job and obtain day care for her child. Once she completed those objectives, her case manager would help her find an apartment. This time Alicia was ready to take care of business and she has flourished.

“Tumbleweed is full of people that believe in me,” said Alicia. She completed her plan and got an apartment. START is now subsidizing her rent and other living expenses until she can take care of those expenses on her own. Her case manager also helped her sign up for health care while helping her investigate and pursue career & educational goals.
Alicia obtained her G.E.D., attends parenting classes, plays the guitar, and attends community college and works part-time. Her future plans include obtaining her degree in Psychology, traveling, and buying a mansion. Alicia knows she will make something of her life, and feels she and her son are leading a less dangerous life.

Tempe Youth Resource Center
Towards the end of summer a dashing young man strolled into the Tempe Youth Resource Center, we will call him Mark. He looked a little shy, a little intimidated, and very uncomfortable, letting us know he was new to this game. He quickly completed an initial intake, grabbed a few supplies and darted out the door. We did not learn much about Mark that day, or if we would ever see him again. But to our surprise Mark returned the next day, and the next! This shy young man quickly became a permanent and vibrant fixture in our center. In five short visits Mark met with the case manager, that’s when he really started to open up.

Mark had an interesting background, one that we don’t often see in the center. He was born in the United States but his family returned to their home in Saudi Arabia when Mark was between middle and high school years. Mark had the rare opportunity of growing up in two very different countries and cultures. Mark returned to the states to attend a community college, without his family. Unfortunately without family support Mark made some poor decisions. He quickly found himself not in school and without a home. This is where our adventure with Mark begins.

When Mark began meeting with our case manager and exploring possible life paths, other than his current “entrepreneur” lifestyle, doors and opportunities began to open up! We helped Mark capitalize on the gifts and talents that he already possessed. Mark applied on line for a job as a translator in Iraq. His middle school and high school years in Saudi Arabia had left him fluent in Arabic and acclimatized to the culture and traditions. It was a tough process of tests (verbal and written) and staying drug free before Mark could secure the job. He completed phone interviews and tests on the center’s phone, written tests on the center’s computer, and we assisted Mark in getting all his needed forms of identification. Mark was at the door when we opened and the last to leave at night, helping us clean at the end of the day!

Just 16 short days after Mark entered into case management services he boarded a plan for Georgia to complete his training to become a translator in Iraq with a contract company working with the United States Military! Mark before leaving said he was thankful he was able to come here daily not only stay away from the elements of nature, but the elements of the streets. Mark was of course referring to the drugs, violence and other negative influences he had previously been engaged with. He was able to find spiritual help within the community/ people and support from the staff at the center to reach his full potential.

Mark is an extraordinary young man, like so many youth he was unable to see his full potential. The center did not create any big change in Mark, we just provided the opportunity for Mark to change himself.

Mark called at the completion training just before leaving for Iraq. You could hear the difference even over the phone. Mark was proud of himself and he had others proud of him too! The staff at TYRC wishes you well Mark and many more opportunities in the future!

Tumbleweed Center For Youth Development -
1419 N. 3rd St. #102 Phoenix, Arizona 85004

Phone: 602.271.9904 | 24-hour crisis hotline: 602.841.5799 | Toll free number: 1.866.SAFE703