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Empower Young Lives In South Carolina: Donate Your Car Today
At "Cars for Kids," we are dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of children in need across the beautiful state of South Carolina. Your unused vehicle can become a powerful tool for change, supporting vital local initiatives that directly impact South Carolina's youth. By choosing to donate your car, you're not just parting with a vehicle; you're becoming a driving force behind positive change.
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Jorge's Success Story
Back at my other school my behavior and lack of attendance was a big problem and I thought I would never graduate. I used to skip class all the time and chill with my friends. I always got into trouble doing stupid stuff. I knew one day it would catch up to me.
I got into trouble in school one day and was arrested. During court, I saw my mom cry my dad also told me that my girl was crying. It felt really bad knowing that I was hurting them both. I knew I had to straighten up but where to start? I was stuck. I felt like giving up and I didn’t know what to do. I would have been locked up for 4 years but the judge gave me a 2nd chance, 9 months of probation, wanting me to keep going to school was the first step.
It was hard trying to find a school that accepted me. The school board of education kicked me out of the A.I.S.D. district. I couldn’t enroll anywhere, until I found Austin Can! Academy. Other than the judge, this school gave me a 2nd chance. It was like everything I needed to graduate. It gave me hope, the teachers are fun and can teach real good. They always help you and give you special attention when you need it, and it really helped me. With the help of my family, my girl and especially Austin Can! I am now a high school graduate!! The first in my family.
I Love Austin CAN! Academy.
Christian and his father have known many closed doors.
After a medical discharge from the US Army, Christian’s father began a heating and air conditioning business. For a time, the business grew, and things were going well.
Christian’s mother, however, had developed a worsening drug habit. His worried father often woke up in the middle of the night, fearing he would find her dead from an overdose.
“My father,” Christian says, “gave my mother an ultimatum: it was either us or the drugs.
“She chose the drugs,” he remembers.
When his mother made her choice, Christian was all of eight.
A month after she left, Christian’s father encouraged him to visit her at his grandmother’s home, where his mother had been staying. Though deeply disappointed in her and not wanting to see her, he went. He spotted the family vehicle in the driveway of his grandmother’s house, but when he knocked on the door, no one answered. Then, he spotted a window curtain move and plainly heard his mother’s voice: “Don’t open the door.”
Shortly thereafter, Christian’s father got sick with pancreatitis. He was weakened and unable to work. Christian had to learn to care for his father, cooking small meals and helping his father to and from the restroom.
Christian’s mother, meanwhile, gutted the family’s savings account.
With no savings and no income, Christian and his father eventually saw the electricity cut and the water shut off. Baths were taken using gallons of water purchased from the store, meals were cooked by the grill, and clothes went unwashed. Christian’s homework had to be done while the sun was still up. He was bullied at school for his unwashed clothes.
Thanks to the generosity of their local Catholic church, Christian and his father received enough money to turn the electricity and water back on. His father could pay for the medical treatment he needed. Christian and his father felt stronger in their faith, and they continued to enjoy cooking out on the grill—which had become a bonding activity for them.
During his junior year, Christian was doing well. He was keeping up with his studies and excelling in a welding program. However, their home of many years was falling apart. The landlord, unwilling to cover the costs of repairs prescribed by the housing authority, locked Christian and his father out of their home. They could not afford the deposit on a new place to live.
For a month, Christian and his father were homeless, and they slept behind dumpsters. When they did find an apartment, it was in bad shape. Need forced them to take it.
Two more obstacles stood in their way. Following multiple ignored requests to address the apartment’s safety hazards, Christian’s father tripped on the ripped carpet in their living room, injuring his knees and losing some mobility.
“I’d had enough,” Christian recalls. He felt that, because of his family’s limited resources, they were being overlooked. Motivated to right a wrong, he made a close study of the lease: the landlord was in violation of the Fair and Equal Housing Act. Christian took action. Thanks to his advocacy with the housing authority, Christian’s father’s medical expenses were covered by the property management’s insurance provider, and a state inspector made an inspection of the entire property.
Still there was the second obstacle. Because he had missed too many days of school during their month of homelessness, Christian faced repeating his junior year. It was a blow.
Friends told him about Texans Can Academies and its accelerated curriculum recovery. When he and his father came for enrollment, however, they thought they had encountered yet another closed door—the school required uniforms, and he and his father could not afford it. They prepared to walk away.
Thanks to the school’s Whole Student program, however, Christian’s uniform was paid for. The same day, the school’s principal met with Christian and his father and took them to lunch in the cafeteria.
“That meant a lot to us,” Christian says.
The very next day, Christian was able to start school and get back on track.
From then on, Christian experienced the school’s generous welcome. When food was scarce, he availed himself of the school’s food pantry, and, in the classroom, he found the academic support he needed.
“The staff at Can have been great. They have shown me so much hospitality. My history teacher, Mr. Rodriguez, helped and encouraged me. He was very straightforward and set high expectations for me.”
“Because of the Can, I didn’t have to repeat my junior year,” he says.
Christian graduated from Texans Can in June 2019, and, taking advantage of the GI Bill and a scholarship made possible by proceeds from an annual community luncheon, has enrolled in St. Philip’s College’s pre-law program.
Christian and his father continue to enjoy cooking out on the grill together, and, with faith in God, they both look forward to a future of open doors.
“I am thankful the Can was there for me. I know I have a lot more to give, and a lot more to achieve.”
I can honestly say that San Antonio Can was one of the most life changing times in my life.
Most students at Can are a little broken, lost, and alone. But we all realize that we slowly become a family.
Unlike other student stories, mine is pretty different. We all struggled in our previous schools. When you aren't engaged and when you feel left out, most will of course lose their drive. In school I just couldn't find my place.
At home my parents were on and off, my father was in and out, and my mother got lost in a hole of depression.
When my dad officially left, my sister chose to take his side in this ugly split and move with him. My mother lost herself, her job, and our home. She decided the best thing for her would be to go home, to Michigan, so she could be with her mother.
Trying to be the supportive daughter, I of course encouraged her to go. I knew that I personally had a place with my boyfriend and his family. I didn't want to return to Michigan. I had finally found a comfort zone here, with my boyfriend, who has and continues to support me through all of the hard times.
I told my mother if she wanted to take care of us she would need to begin to take care of herself again.
I started to lose my drive for education during my sophomore year. My grades definitely dropped, but I pushed through regardless of what was going on at home. I didn't want to draw any attention from my parents.
When my junior year started, my dad had moved out, my mother had lost her job and never left her room. I would leave for school in the morning, but I wouldn't stay longer than lunch time. I would barely make it to 3 classes every day, out of 7 classes that was pretty disappointing.
I tried to keep up with my other classes via email, but once Thanksgiving break approached a counselor informed me that I wouldn't receive my credits due to my lack of attendance. The first option that came to mind was to just give up. I was ready to just drop out. I was going to have to start junior year all over again. I didn't want to do that. I've never failed at anything in my life, and hearing that I was about to fail, it truly broke something inside of me. So I immediately started looking into what my alternative options were.
The counselor knew I wasn't going to school, and she didn't seem to believe that I would change my bad habit so she suggested online homeschooling.
It seemed easier to just push me out than have me start over there. I was sitting in the school library one morning and another student mentioned getting withdrawn from our current school, and transferring to a charter school.
She made it seem so easy, explaining that its half day and you can graduate faster even if you are currently behind. It was sounded perfect.
I didn't want to stay another minute at my school. That same day I had my mother come withdrawal me. As I was leaving the office the women made a snobby comment to me that went something like, “make sure to bring us your transcripts when you want to come back.” It was so discouraging that these women didn't believe I would succeed or that they thought I would regret my decision.
I truly believe that in that moment my fire sparked up again.
When I started at Can I quickly realized the speed in which you graduate is based on each individual student and their personal drive.
This school is extremely fast paced. Every single day there is equivalent to 3 days at your regular schools. It honestly comes down how to much you want to achieve your goals and how hard you are willing to work. The teachers at this school are truly the best teacher’s you’ll ever meet.
It was the middle of their second term and I caught up fast which was intriguing to them. My algebra teacher loved my ability to stand in front of the class and preach my method, or my solutions. I loved helping my classmates.
My English teacher became a women I could rely on and she encouraged my dreams. I loved the responsibility of helping with lesson plans and reading to my class. I loved that when I would explain or summarize the passages we just read, it made it easier for students to comprehend and even get interested.
In all honesty, the person who had made the greatest impact on my life, was my history teacher. He took a great interest in me when he saw my passion for education.
With his help, I received commended scores in all five of my Standardized State Tests. I spent half of my school day in his class, absorbing every ounce of knowledge possible. His class is where I learned what Can is all about.
We all come from different backgrounds, we all weren't successful in our previous schools, and we all needed this last chance to make it right.
Most students at Can are ready to overcome this last obstacle of childhood and graduate, especially because most of us are already dealing with adult like challenges.
If there was ever any doubt in your mind, I'm proud to say that this school has been the greatest blessing to us.
Yes, it is every student's individual choice to accept this kind of help. We all accept that we can't change our pasts and where we come from, but the teachers and staff are ALWAYS there.
They never give up on these kids. They believe in us, they fight for us, they encourage us and because of them, we all graduate wanting nothing more than to make them proud of the people we choose to become next.
In January, I graduated Salutatorian of my class. I remember the principal telling me that he had to do the math multiple times between the valedictorian and myself because we were so close.
Now I dream of becoming a teacher and helping students achieve their full potential. I hope to start at UTSA, next year and Graduate from UT with a masters in teaching and child development.
Everything I learned about the students and myself at Can, has only made my goals crystal clear.
There will always be children in need, of love and encouragement, and we all just need someone to believe in us.
At the age of 12, Kim’s mother loaded the family car with a few belongings and her four children leaving McAllen, TX and a failed marriage to the past.
Though her mother held two jobs to make ends meet, the family squeezed into a one bedroom apartment in East Austin. “We didn’t have a bed. We had one pull-out couch, and I would rather have my brothers and my mom sleep on it than me. She worked so much,” Kim remarks.
“You wish you could do so much more to help the people you love, but I wasn’t old enough. I really wasn’t old enough – I was 14. I was still a kid, but I never really felt like a kid because I always had such a heavy weight to carry.” Kim’s love for her brothers can be compared to that of a mother’s love. Ray, a younger brother, was diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of three. Ray’s treatments required the family to stay in the Ronald McDonald House for extended periods of time. Ray has since entered remission and undergone more treatment, but this hardship changed Kim’s personal understanding of her role in supporting the family and sparked her interest in pursuing the medical field.
Ultimately, the burden of caring for her brothers affected her attendance and led to her dismissal from her local high school. Austin Can Academy was not a part of the plan Kim set for herself. Principal Oakes remembers, “She had a hard time adjusting in the beginning. It was obvious she didn’t want to be here, but it only took that first day for her to realize that we were here to support her. After that day, it clicked. She was unstoppable.”
“Austin Can teachers taught you more than you needed to know. When I asked a questions they offered answers that lead me to more thoughtful questions. Austin Can makes you feel like family. You don’t feel, how do you say it in English? I want to say ‘No estorbes,’ like you’re not a bother. If I didn’t make it to school on time, I got text messages and phone calls. When your parents can’t be there to push you, the advisors are there to keep you on track. My mom didn’t talk to me about college – Austin Can did that.”
Graduation was so close Kim could feel it. She came rested and ready for her state exams, and then the worst happened – she didn’t finish her English exam within the five hour time limit. Six weeks later, the news that she failed her English STAAR exam hit her hard but she was positive. “Not passing the STAAR test wasn’t the same rejection I felt from other times in my life. I had support around me telling me that I needed to study a little harder. You can’t lose hope with that kind of support,” remarks Kim.
While continuing to study for her state exams, Kim completed her Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) training and certification at Austin Can. “The Certified Nursing Assistant program allowed me to start working above minimum wage. This certification isn’t the end all, it is the first step into the medical field. Now, I’m working on my Medical Aid Certificate. I’m making a decent amount, and I can continue my classes without having to pick up extra shifts. I’ve been helping the other CNA students get jobs – one of the girls has a house now. Nursing opens so many doors. I enjoy what I do. I want to make a difference in someone’s life.”
Kim has since graduated from Austin Can and continues the effort to surround herself with positive, driven and empowering people. “When you hang around with people who are not on an upward path, you’re not going to change. When you decide to make a change, you have to make the choice about who you spend your time with. Even if it is family or friends, if they don’t get it – you have to remove yourself.”
“The students – we don’t have a lot, we’re not lucky like others. The support people give to the school takes a weight off of our shoulders. It’s a chance for us to become something or somebody. There are people my age who have two jobs. When I tell people about my high school experience, they wish they would have known about Austin Can. The Can doesn’t let you walk out with your diploma, they’re going to help you create those first steps.”
“Honestly, I’ve never felt so stable and happy. Austin Can gave me a confidence to make it through the tough times. In times that I felt like giving up because of the obstacles in my life, Austin Can changed my way of thinking and acting in hard situations. You take what you’ve been through and you take what you’ve seen and you use that to make an impact. I may not be the one to break the chain, but I at least want to be the one to weaken it. I tell my brothers, they can do this – they can make it.”
Kim currently works as a CNA while continuing her coursework to be a Medical Aid. She plans to pursue a degree in nursing and work with children with chronic disease. “Where do I see myself in five years? It’s not so much where I see myself, with an RN degree you can do so much. How I want to feel in five years – I want to be happy. I want to love what I do and want to move forward in that. I just want to be happy really.”
A Story to be Told, A Story to be Heard
All my life I have had to overcome problems that I thought would never happen to me. I was born with asthma, and my little brother was born with Downs Syndrome. We are both black males, poor, and grew up in a bad neighborhood; we were born into problems. To top it off, a problem that I am still trying to overcome is the hard fight my mother put up against cancer for ten years leading to her ultimate death. She died on May 17, 2009. It still affects me every day of my life.
That next year was one of the hardest years of my life. We were poorer than poor, living in Mason Manor trying to make it while my mama worked two jobs. She was then laid off because her employer felt she was supposed to enjoy her last days with her kids. No one could say the words “yo mama” without catching my fist in their teeth. That caused us to do a lot of moving. It seemed every school I went to there was always that one person who would always say it and make me mad.
By 8th grade my mom thought it would be a good idea to move us to Pflugerville. It was a rough year, but I barely made it through. That summer my mama spent a lot of time in and out the hospital with medical procedures. It was now the first day of school at Pflugerville High. I made it through, went to football practice and ended up fighting with this guy. Luckily, I wasn’t suspended. The next day at school his homeboy approached me and said, “Let me see you do me like that…!” I didn’t say anything. I just started throwing a flurry of punches until he hit the floor. Then the whole football team jumped me in the main hallway. I injured three guys, so they expelled me and from the school district. The school called my mother out of bed to come get me. This only frazzled her more.
I had to learn to control myself a little more. We ended up moving to some apartments. I transferred to another high school. The first year and a half there went alright, aside from the fact I was still slowly losing my mother. It was starting to be clearer that she would not be around for as long as I had thought. But I was going to school and taking care of business, the most important thing. Soon enough, the second semester of my sophomore year I was kicked out of high school for being an alleged gang member.
That brought me to Austin Can! for a little while. It helped me out at the time by attending the PM session. In the morning I would take care of my mom, go to school from 12 to 4 and go straight back home to take care of her some more. That gave us alot of time to make memories. I finished the school year at Austin Can! with no problem. The following school year I decided to go back to my home high school, worst idea of my life. One day I had noone to call because I had just checked my mom into Seton hospital for her chemotherapy. That was the day I was expelled from AISD for gang relation and failure to ID.
For two weeks I was out of school and in the hospital with my mother, watching her fade away slowly. Soon after she was shipped to San Antonio to a hospital specializing in cancer. She died in that hospital May 17, 2009. I made a promise to my mother that I would graduate and attend college so I could be rich and take care of her. I graduated from Austin Can! this past spring and kept my promise to my Mom, now I have to work on the second half of the promise.