Jason grew up loving both of his parents, but he knew they were not good role models. His abusive father was in and out of prison, and his mother – addicted to heroin – struggled with keeping her children off of the streets. To make ends meet, she’d often trick them into following her to “junkie dens” and other unsafe environments. When he got older, Jason eventually went to live with his grandparents… but shortly after he heard of his mother’s death, his grandmother also passed away. The house was foreclosed, and Jason spent the next several years bouncing from couch to couch.

Jason now lives with a friend of his (who is also in YOTO), and together they are determined to graduate from high school. Although he still struggles with depression, Jason’s mood has been on the rise. “Without YOTO, I don’t know where I’d be,” he said. “In fact, everything I am wearing and carrying with me… I got from YOTO.” He regularly visits the Mini-Mall and earns his monthly stipend, which covers some of his expenses.

After graduating from high school, Jason wants to become a police officer. “In the neighborhood I grew up in, there was a common police presence,” he said. “I always looked up to them.” He is on track to graduate in the spring of 2017.