Below are profiles of past OFS Pathways participants (taken from self-reflection essays which were written while at OFS). For the most up-to-date information about OFS youth, please connect with us through social media.
Ashley, 14-15 Pathways Participant
“Since I dropped out of high school, I’ve been to three different high schools. None of those high schools worked out for my needs. I had no support from anyone. The only thing I had was my animals. I thought I had friends. I found out they just brought me down more. Those friends had no goals or motivation. All they wanted to do was party.
One of my friends told me about a great program called Operation Fresh Start. I looked more into the program and thought it would be a great place to go. I went to the interview so nervous wondering if they would even let me into the program. A few weeks went on after the interview and I got a call saying that ‘ I’m in’ and needed to come in to have a meeting with my soon to be supervisor. At the meeting we talked about what we would be doing. I knew this was where I needed to be…I worked as hard as I could. It helped me get things off my mind and I love the way hard work made me feel when the job is over. It was the best thing I ever had the chance to be a part of…Operation Fresh Start has gave me the power to do and be whatever I want. I know have dreams to become a large animal vet. I will be getting my high school diploma through Operation Fresh Start.
I now see myself as a strong young women that can overcome anything. Without Operation Fresh Start, I wouldn’t be going on the right path, or even looking at my true possible self. I would have no dreams or hopes.
So when I ask do you believe someone can change? My answer is yes, only if you try and never give up. Don’t let anything stop you.”
Gabe, 13-14 Pathways Participant
“My junior year of high school wasn’t the best. I was always getting sent to the principal’s office. I turned in my homework late, I was very disrespectful and I skipped classes. I left school…
When I started my senior year I really buckled down. I attended classes, listened to my teachers and I did my best to be more respectful. I had a very long talk with my case manager about my credits and what I needed to do in order to graduate and be able to walk across the stage with my class. But just when I thought I was doing good in school…I was suspended from school…that’s when I got into Operation Fresh Start.
Since being at OFS, I have learned how to work with my hands and how to build, fix, install, drywall, mud, insulate, put on a roof and install siding. I also learned how to work well with my crew members and I’ve built a really solid relationship with a couple of my crew members.
I like working at OFS because they help people find jobs, and help people get their high school diploma. After OFS, I hope to find a job in retail because I like selling stuff and I like retail in general.
I want to thank every last person at OFS. The staff and teachers at OFS have been a major help in my life. I’ll never forget what they’ve done for me. Words can’t explain how grateful I am for their help and support. It means so much to me.”
Jordan, Pathways Participant – Speech from 2014 Graduation Awards
“I’m Jordan… and I want to thank everyone who is here today to support Operation Fresh Start. About a week or two ago I was told I got this award and it made me think of the past before I came here and how much has changed since then.
Before OFS I was an irresponsible teenager and got in trouble with the law a few times. I was on a road to nowhere and was doing nothing with my life. I wanted to change what I was doing and get back on track. My friend, who was on the same road as me, found out about Operation Fresh Start and got in then introduced me to it. So I applied and luckily got in.
So I was back to getting up in the mornings and going to school. I started off on a conservation crew and spent most of my time outside. After my first term I got on a construction crew and began building affordable housing. I liked building things and seeing what I did. I was told there’s something called Graduate crew where after you graduate you can get on this crew if you want to do construction as a career and Eddy my current supervisor will get you ready for it.
I achieved a lot with my time spent here at OFS. I got certified CPR/First aid, LED abatement, OSHA, I was able to obtain a driver’s license, take a class at MATC, got my high school diploma. I learned the ins and outs of construction and many more things. But I think this award goes to more than just me – I think it goes to all the participants back at OFS trying to make a change just like me and I want to thank you all for helping make that possible for me and the people walking in the doors at Operation Fresh Start every day.”
Kevin, 13-14 Pathways Participant
“When I came to Operation Fresh Start I was thinking about what they could do for me. OFS has helped me feel that I can once again do something with my life. They are helping me learn how to rebuild a house and teaching me how to hold down a job. They also make me feel like I am on a team and there’s no better feeling than being a part of something that helps make the world better.
I hope one day to join the Army and after that I can help the world in my own way and be a part of something big that changes the world. I want to give people a chance to have good schools and books, playgrounds and new homes, good jobs and to teach them new things. I also want people to have good hospitals and benefits.
I feel like I can do it because OFS is a strange group of people that can do amazing things. When I first came to Operation Fresh Start it gave me hope that I can have the future I want because I have great people around me that care and work hard to help me be a better person and live a happy life. I hope after the Army I make it back ok so that I can start my life’s mission to help people in the world.”