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From Risk to Opportunity - Marrell

Updated on November 15, 2018

“I never lived in a stereotypical home,” said Marrell.


He and his younger brother were raised by their single mom. They moved from apartment to apartment, and often had different people in and out of their lives. Their mom loved them, worked hard and did her best to make sure they had a roof over their head and food to eat each night, but there were underlying issues that led to instability in the home. It was manageable – until it wasn’t.


“She came home from work one day and she was just different” is how Marrell describes the start of his negative home life. At 17, he had to make the decision to call the police more than once. One officer, in particular, took a special interest in the boys. As the chaos at home escalated, the officer stepped in to help the boys. Marrell and his younger brother, only 4 years old, were taken out of their home and put into DHS custody.


Marrell shared the most urgent thing on his mind during that time was school. How he hoped he could get back to school and take his education more seriously. He felt he needed to do well, so he could be “a positive adult role model” to his younger brother.


The boys were first taken to one of the state shelters. They were told they would be put into a kinship placement and would be able to stay together. That didn’t happen, and they remained in state custody. Marrell submitted a request to see his brother and a worker broke the news to him that his younger brother had been put in a group home three days earlier and no one had told him. Marrell was not prepared for that news – it took everything out of him. It was a very dark time.


Nearly two months later, Marrell was told he was going to another shelter. The shelter was Pivot’s Family Junction.


“It was a clean, open space…great for creating a good environment…a home-type of environment,” said Marrell. He shared he really didn’t enjoy the chores, but soon understood what the staff was teaching him were life skills he needed to be self-reliant.


Marrell also shared he learned both good and not-so-good life lessons while at the shelter, and what he remembers most is Mr. Lawrence. He had quite a bit to say about Lawrence Cartwright, Pivot’s senior director of transition services.


“Mr. Lawrence understood that every child is different, and he knew the right way and the wrong way to approach each one of us,” said Marrell. “There was a balance of expectation and understanding of where the kid was coming from.”


Marrell understood the challenges he faced as an older teen in foster care. He took advantage of every opportunity to better himself and engage in school. He was focused on what he needed to do to get a placement in a foster care home.


After three months with Pivot, Marrell received and maintained a foster care placement, was able to continue in his current school and graduated high school. He then went on to obtain his Bachelor’s degree.


While in college, Marrell found himself in a full-circle moment, securing employment at a shelter for youth. He used the skills he learned at Pivot and drew upon what he experienced and observed from Lawrence. These skills and relational qualities allowed him to do his job well, always striving to help the kids that were now in his care.


Marrell shared his gratitude with those who provide support to Pivot, “The principals that Pivot is built on is needed for kids that find themselves in a place of transition.”


“I’m thankful for the time I spent at Pivot,” Marrell said. “My time there positively shaped me in ways I would never have imagined.”