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.
Kathy came to Open Hands at age 13. She was homeless because her drug-addicted parents were living in a park. She had some psychiatric problems, health concerns, learning disabilities, and few social skills. Open Hands raised her for three years – she became a leader among her peers, an active participant in Youth Development events for the agency, and a self-confident problem-solver capable of forming important relationships and of having real insight into her difficult childhood experiences. At age 16, she found a foster family and move in with them.
A 17-year-old client came to Open Hands a few months ago because she and her dad couldn't live together anymore and she was struggling with bulimia and drugs. She had spent some time in a CPS shelter after accusing her dad of molesting her. She later admitted the allegations were false but could never reconcile with dad. While in the program, she finished her high school diploma, enrolled in AHCCCS to start therapy for her eating disorder, implemented a recycling program at Open Hands, obtained a job, enrolled in college and eventually improved her relationship with dad. Recently she turned 18 and got her own apartment with dad's help. She calls once in a while to check in or to ask for help with a problem she's having.