When I was six, I went from living with my mother in Los Angeles, to staying with my auntie in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We had never met before. When I was a teenager, I struggled with trusting people and trust issues. When I did trust somebody, they would always turn their back on me and I would always get burned.
When I was in the 7th grade, I started at McClain high school and I stayed there all the way until I was in 9thgrade. When I was in 9th grade I decided to drop out because everybody of my friends was leaving me and I had no one to talk to.
When I first dropped out, I liked it. I was doing stuff for the first two months. And then after that I became really depressed and I just stayed at home.
ON SCREEN: Milo was matched with a Life Launch team through Stand in the Gap. They met twice a month to play basketball, share a meal, and talk about life.
NICK: Hearing Milo’s story, it was difficult to see what people go through. I knew he needed someone who believed in him.
NATHAN: The first day seeing him, he comes in, head is down, shoulders a little bit slumped, he’s walking slow and he’s timid.
CHRIS: We meet in this coffee shop and he has these really, fairly strong glasses. So I work for an eyecare company and can kind of tell a prescription. I wasn’t sure where it was but he had very strong glasses which usually means they have to sit just perfectly on your face. Well, Milo had, on one side, a string, pipe cleaner, like an arts and crafts supply hanging off one side of his glasses.
MILO: There was a string that was like attached right here. It was really funny.
CHRIS: I’m like, how can this guy see anything?! Working for an eyecare company, I’m like okay day one let’s go figure out this glasses situation because he’s trying to go through school, trying to study. So our first get together with the whole team, we were able to take him to one of our clinics and get him a new prescription.
ISAAC: Milo was like, ‘hey, you probably know some good looks for glasses.’ And I think he pointed out the ones I was wearing at the time and I was like, ‘well you know, my glasses aren’t necessarily going to be your glasses.’ And part of a relationship is learning, you are bouncing off of each other, but you are also encouraging each other to be the best that you can be. So I say to Milo, ‘Hey man, this is my opinion but it doesn’t really matter what my opinion is, it matters whether you like them and whether you think you would look good in them.’
CHRIS: And then it seemed like over the next couple of weeks, he’s doing great in school and he can read a little easier. It was just nice to be like, oh man, something so simple can have a huge impact.’
MILO: When something is bothering me, like I’m going through a lot of family issues like in the past and right now, instead of them saying, ‘hey, I can’t talk right now.’ They would always try to see how can they help me and how can we get through it, whether if it’s pray for me or if I needed to get out the house, they will say let’s plan something for this date. So I think how they helped me is just being there for me. So I see these guys, like all of them, like my family.
NATHAN: When we look at the every day of what we are doing, it just seems so small. It doesn’t feel like we are doing anything great. It just seems like we are doing the small things consistently. And it’s in that consistency that I think, over time, has a tremendous impact on someone.
ISAAC: It reminds you of how important little things are. That random text, ‘hey man, how you doing?’ That pat on the back, ‘hey man, it’s going to be alright.’
NATHAN: The change in Milo has been fantastic. He stands up more straight. He looks you in the eye. And he has an inner confidence that speaks to something deep in him.
CHRIS: He’s become a leader at his school. He was the president of the class. I’ve also seen Milo, he tells us these stories about school where people have been rude or mean and things that maybe 3 or 4 years ago he would have snapped back and would have pushed back on them but instead he just walks away and is able to realize that ‘I’m going to pick my battles. I don’t need to deal with this.’ Or ‘I don’t need to fight,’ Or, ‘I don’t need to get angry.’ So I’ve seen a guy who has gone from feeling like he has to fight back to a guy who is able to forgive. And it’s been really impressive to see that change in him.
NATHAN: Whenever you can have a group of people that can stand by you, walk with you and kind of nudge you in a more healthy direction, it can simply just change the trajectory of a life and it’s pretty amazing.
ISAAC: Family is really important. And for me, Stand in the Gap is providing the opportunity for people to grow their family in really important and beautiful ways.
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