Just 18 months ago, Jacinda was living in a one-room structure behind a house in south San Antonio with her mother, father and three siblings. There was no kitchen, no beds, and a just small makeshift outhouse for the family to use. Jacinda’s grades were low in school, and her motivation was even lower. Every day for 15 years, she would think to herself…
When her dad left, Jacinda’s mother knew things had to change, she wanted more for her children and for herself. The family heard about SAMMinistries through a friend, and after three interviews they were accepted into the two-year transitional program. Jacinda recalls, “The day we got in to the TLLC, we came to the library and met with the staff. I remember they brought us blankets, pillowcases, forks, bowls, spoons…my mom and I cried. We were just so happy.”
Now a year later, Jacinda, 17, has a whole new outlook on life. For a fresh start, Jacinda and her three younger siblings transferred to schools near the TLLC. Her grades have improved from C’s and D’s to A’s and B’s. “Now I can concentrate in class. I feel so accomplished when I get a 100% back,” said Jacinda. Academic coaches, funded by AT&T Aspire, work with Jacinda and her siblings to help them set goals and realize their potential. “I like to write and draw, but I stopped because I thought there are always people out there that are better than me,” Jacinda said. “But since I came to SAMMinistries I realized that I can write, I can draw, I can read, and I can do it just as good as anybody else.”
Jacinda and her brother walk to school together every day, “my brother and I used to fight a lot, but now there’s not a reason for us to be mad anymore.” After her schoolwork is done, Jacinda walks to Freddy’s and works taking orders, serving customers and cleaning the restaurant. She has even had her hours extended for doing good work.
Jacinda is saving up for a car, so she can drive her brother and herself to school, but in the meantime, she is thrilled to be able to buy presents for her six-year-old sister. “I want to help my mom as much as I can,” she said. “I want to buy things for my little sister at the store, because I never had that.”
As Jacinda prepares for her last holiday season at the TLLC, she thinks back about her family’s first Christmas with SAMMinistries. “Normally we would just get one used toy per year. Watching my little sister open presents for the first time was really nice. She kept saying ‘Santa loves me.’ It was an emotional time for my mom. She was crying because she was so happy to see us opening gifts.”
She plans on attending college after graduation in 2016, and is already thinking about the opportunities that lie ahead. “Now that I’ve come to SAMMinistries I have so many opportunities. I want to be on TV. I want to write a book. I want to talk to kids. I want to be a spokesperson. I want to do everything. What’s hard now is choosing what to do.”