+ + Success Stories Archive - SCO Family of Services

Selena’s Story

Selena first came to SCO’s Scattered Site Supportive Housing Program, in August 2017. This program provides housing and transitional services for young adults who have been in foster care and are at-risk of homelessness. Selena, who had been in foster care since age 9, was dealing with a lot of family and personal issues. She was feeling frustrated and depressed. The tipping point came when her biological father passed away.

As a way to help cope with her loss, Selena decided to write a book about her experience. She hoped sharing her experience might inspire others…turning her personal tragedy into something positive. Ever resourceful, Selena wrote her entire book on her cell phone and uploaded it onto Amazon where it is currently sold as a Kindle format e-book.

Selena’s entrepreneurial spirit had been unleashed. Following her book, Selena developed her own podcast where she talks about life issues and how she has dealt with them in the hopes of motivating others. Since establishing her podcast last year, she has attracted over 20,000 followers worldwide.

She didn’t stop there. Selena then decided that she wanted to sell merchandise with inspirational messages. She started her own online t-shirt company – printing, packaging and shipping orders out of her apartment.

Selena has found her calling. She has found healing through sharing her story and inspiring others and she has experienced personal growth in the process.

SCO staff are encouraging her to utilize her abilities and resilience to pursue her education. In doing so, Selena will be able to use her knowledge to promote and expand her budding enterprises and find other employment opportunities to help her as she transitions to independent living.

Jasmine’s Story

I entered foster care at 16 years old and was placed in the home of “Aunt” Nessa, as I liked to call her. Few people knew of my situation; it was our little secret. I was embarrassed by the family dysfunction that led me to this strange place in my life, and with the support of my SCO caseworkers, I realized that education was my way out.

My goal was to attend Spelman College. I faced some naysayers; guidance counselors who said it was too expensive, others who felt I would never get in. But my SCO caseworkers and staff supported my decision. They stayed on top of me, making sure I filled out every document and scholarship. It was the staff’s unwavering support and positive reinforcement that sustained me.

I was accepted to Spelman with scholarships from several organizations as well as financial support from SCO’s education and permanency program, which helped me afford my housing.

But that was just the start of my journey. During summer break, I earned an internship volunteering with foster youth and their families through AmeriCorps that changed my life. I didn’t want any special treatment, so no one at my job was aware of my status as a foster youth. But as I worked in the family visiting room, much like a fly on the wall, I watched young people about my age visiting with the children they had lost custody of, some pregnant again. I saw a vicious cycle happening before my eyes.

It was that summer I realized that as a woman of color, as a foster youth, and as a human being who just cares, it would be a disservice if I didn’t take advantage of my unique pairing of lived experiences and desire to affect change.

Today, I am at Teachers College Columbia University earning my Masters in Clinical Psychology on a full scholarship, so that I, too, can be a source of support for youth in need.

Arjun’s Story

When Arjun joined SCO’s Individual Residential Alternatives program in 2014, his developmental disabilities and behavioral challenges greatly impacted his ability to function. They were so severe that he could not be in crowds, public spaces, and was unable to socialize. There were times when Arjun would refuse to eat meals with his housemates.

With the help and dedication of SCO’s staff, a plan was developed to help Arjun address these challenges and work towards achieving his goals. Last summer, Arjun attended the YMCA Camp Huguenot with his peers where he had a blast doing a variety of activities such as archery, rock climbing and canoeing. The fun did not stop there! After the camping trip, Arjun took a major step forward and drove to Battery Park with his sister and aunt. He entered the car with no hesitation and walked the High Line, went for pizza and drove around Manhattan with his family where he showed almost zero signs of anxiety.

Today, Arjun attends SCO’s community habilitation, partakes in various activities such as volunteering at canned food drives, delivering food to elderly adults, going to the bowling alley, and going to the local church’s gym to play basketball and soccer. Arjun spends quality time with his peers and he is now able to enjoy going out and be among his friends and family. He is also taking road-trips with his parents to Virginia and going on camping trips with his housemates without having anxiety.

Arjun’s breakthrough is the definition of a success story! He continues to thrive, and we are sure that Arjun will continue to work towards more independence and integration into his community.

 

Shana’s Story

I have been challenged with addiction for 10 years, and have been in and out of outpatient treatment and detox several times – but I would always relapse.

When I arrived at Morning Star, I was at the lowest point in my life. Things were spiraling out of control. My four children had been taken from me and placed in foster care with a family member. And then I learned that I was 5 months pregnant.

I arrived with the worst attitude in the world. I was just so angry all the time. But at Morning Star, I started to reflect and gain clarity. I realized that I was hurt and angry with myself. And that’s when the healing began. Everything had been a fight up to that point. But I had nowhere to run – I had to face my problems.

Morning Star helped save my life. They never gave up on me.

Every interaction with my counselor and every staff member helped prepare me to re-enter the world clean and ready to thrive.

I attended treatment 5 days a week, attended a medical assistant program, and became certified in a workforce development program for nontraditional roles for women. And I learned that I am worth it! From now on, I show up, set up, and remain teachable.

When my baby, Liliana, was born, I can’t express how much the onsite child care at Morning Star II helped in my recovery. It made it possible for me to go to treatment, attend school, and focus on me. The structure kept me accountable for being a parent and prepared e for the real world.

I knew I was finally on a path to a better life when I left Morning Star. The court saw the improvements in me, too, and my children came back home to me. I never thought that would happen. Today, thanks to Morning Star, I have a home and my family lives under one roof.

I still visit the program to let them know of my progress. My goal is to be fully self-supported. I know there will be obstacles ahead of me. But I am prepared to take it one day at a time.

Manuel’s Story

Manuel is a man with a plan. He loves to cook and aspires to be a chef at a 5-star restaurant one day. Until then, he hones his skills at home preparing his children’s favorite meals each week. A hard-working, single father of three teenagers, ‘family first’ is his mantra and guiding force through good times and bad.

When a series of unfortunate events caused Manuel to lose his job, fall behind in rent, and eventually lose his apartment, he worried about his kids, he worried for himself; he needed to find a way to keep his family together.

Manuel and his children moved into SCO’s Flushing Family Residence in Brooklyn to help him get back on his feet. Manuel recalls, “They gave us a second chance at life. SCO provided me with a roof over my head, access to food pantries, and even provided us with fun and recreation that lifted our spirits.”

While at the shelter, the family received counseling, housing services, and family support services to ease the transition. Manuel laid out a clear path for his family. His goal was to “find us a home, build a foundation, and get the kids in school.” He wasted no time in setting that plan in action. Manuel found steady employment working at a men’s shelter, which he recalls “opened my eyes and pushed me to want to be better and do better for my family.” Staff helped Manuel find an apartment suitable for his large family and their cat Patrick, who had been living with a friend. And all three children settled into their new schools and new life.

“SCO is heaven sent,” exclaimed Manuel. “I am able to do more for my family now and live a productive life.”

Fadwa’s Story

To say Fadwa is driven is an understatement. She doesn’t dream of becoming a surgical nurse, she is actively taking steps to make it happen. And to make her mother proud.

Fadwa lost her mother to cancer when she was just 13 years old. Her father expected Fadwa to assume her mother’s responsibilities and moved the family often, keeping them distanced from any extended family. She was not allowed to have friends or participate in extracurricular activities. She attended five different high schools and managed to maintain excellent grades while she cooked, cleaned, and took care of her two brothers and father.

At 17, she was abandoned by her father and placed in SCO’s foster care program. SCO helped stabilize the teen, placed her with a foster family, and eventually was able to locate a maternal aunt who opened her heart and home to her long-lost niece through kinship foster care.

Despite her early challenges, Fadwa stays focused on the opportunities ahead of her. SCO’s foster care staff helped her prepare for college; guiding her through the application process and helping her achieve both a Dream USA Scholarship and a Youth in Foster Care Award.  Currently a student at Borough of Manhattan Community College, SCO helped her secure an internship with a surgeon at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Fadwa’s goal is to keep her GPA high enough to get into nursing school. And we have no doubt she will achieve this and so much more.

 

Ross’ Story

Ross, a former student at SCO’s Westbrook Preparatory School, is a motivated and engaging young man who has Asperger syndrome. “I’m actually different from many people with Asperger’s in that I’m a very social guy,” says Ross. “On the other hand, sometimes I am unaware of other people’s feelings. I can be impulsive, and I do get overwhelmed. ”

Ross had difficulty adapting at his previous public school due to these challenges. However, Westbrook’s residential school setting gave Ross the opportunity to work on his social skills and develop strategies to help him avoid feeling overwhelmed.

One key element of life at Westbrook is the internship program. While students find comfort and build confidence living and learning with other teens who have similar challenges, they know that they need to prepare themselves to communicate and work well with all kinds of people. Ross’s first internship was at Sports Authority, and he held another at St. Brigid’s Elementary School Camp where he found talking with children about sports very rewarding.

His interest in sports led Ross to his next internship at WCWP 88.1 FM, the college radio station at CW Post. He ran the audio control sound board at sporting events, made guest appearances on a college sports talk show and researched sports information for use on air. He enjoyed his experience so much that he decided to study communications in college.

Success Stories

Click on the person's photo to view or read their story.

Our Clients

Selena’s Story

Creating Opportunities

Selena has found her calling. She has found healing through sharing her story and inspiring others and she has experienced personal growth in the process. Learn More

Jasmine’s Story

From Foster Care to Advocate

Today, I am at Teachers College Columbia University earning my Masters in Clinical Psychology on a full scholarship, so that I, too, can be a source of support for youth in need. Learn More

Arjun’s Story

Overcoming Challenges to Achieve Personal Growth

With the help and dedication of SCO’s staff, a plan was developed to help Arjun address his challenges and work towards achieving his goals. Learn More

Shana’s Story

Family First

Morning Star helped save my life. They never gave up on me. Learn More

Nicholas

Support for individuals with special needs

“The confidence Nick has grown in the short time he’s been at the group home is amazing." Learn More

Manuel’s Story

Homeless Services & Family Support

“SCO is heaven sent. I am able to do more for my family now and live a productive life.” - Manuel Learn More

The Storeys’ Extended Family

Family Care

“We do this for the love in our hearts for them. We’ve seen how much progress they’ve made with care and love." Learn More

Kaitlyn & Khamion

Early Education & Family Support Services

“I love this school. Sometimes I felt like giving up, but Kaitlyn was always my motivation.” Learn More

Fadwa’s Story

Foster Care and Education

“I’m going to be successful regardless of what I’ve been through." Learn More

Ross’ Story

Westbrook Preparatory School

“I’m actually different from many people with Asperger’s in that I’m a very social guy” Learn More

Rachel’s Story

Westbrook Preparatory School

“Attending Westbrook was the first time I felt comfortable with other kids.” Learn More

Declan’s Forever Family

"Adopting Declan was life-changing. You felt the ground shift." Learn More

Westbrook Prep Helps Sam Build a Brighter Future

"I may have Asperger's, but Asperger's doesn't have me." Learn More

Center for Family Life Helps Areliz Build a Brighter Future

"I'm doing this to provide for my kids...for everything that they deserve." Learn More

East Brooklyn Community High School Students Reflect on Graduation Day

"They're your backbone, they help you and support you no matter what you do in life." Learn More

Jewelle

Madonna Heights Residential School

"I'm not going to give up because I know they're not going to give up on me." Learn More

Marissa

Bronx Arena High School

"She made me feel good about myself." Learn More

Antoinette’s Story

Morning Star

"They helped me learn how to be myself, then how to be a mom." Learn More

Madelin, Omariano & Mariano

Baby & Me

“I get so much out of it. I don’t know what I’d do without Baby & Me.” Learn More

Brigid & Noah

Adoption

"He's my world." Learn More

Faiz

RJMCC & Tyree Learning Center

“His progress has been exponential. In barely a year, he’s surpassed everyone’s expectations. It’s been transformative.” Learn More

Isis & Kaiden

Bethany I

“We’ve made lifelong friends and family. It was a beautiful struggle.” Learn More

Tatiania

Bronx Arena High School

"When somebody comes to you and they just really want to learn it's like you know what? I know it. I'm going to teach you." Learn More

Our Supporters

Chris & Ed Stack

Donors with a deep commitment to community Learn More

Adam Graves

"Garden of Dreams is the single most important thing we do.” Learn More

H. Craig Treiber

"The diversity and impact of the services provided make me proud to support the organization.” Learn More

Jackie Tyree Kos

"It’s exciting to be involved with an agency that is doing so much good for so many people." Learn More

John Brown

"SCO has a direct impact on your neighbors." Learn More

Cathy Armstrong

"I love working with the children and helping make their holidays and graduations special." Learn More

We help

2,500

people with special needs develop skills to reach their full potential

82%

of students at our residential school for youth with high-functioning autism are actively involved in weekly internships in the community