What kind of life were you living before you came to Project PATCH?Before Project PATCH entered my life, I was a very defiant child. I argued with my stepmother at every opportunity, and got into fistfights with my sister on a regular basis. Things were so bad that at 13 years old I was court-ordered to live with my father. I honestly hated every part of my life, and had no friends, as I drove away people who tried to befriend me. I was extremely depressed and attempted suicide several times, though almost no one knew about it. Who introduced you to Project PATCH? When I was 16, my father and stepmother offered me the opportunity to go to PATCH. Since I had never been away from home for longer than a week at summer camp, I was scared to go, but I recognized that my life was not normal, and I really wanted the “normalcy” I saw in others’ lives. So I agreed to give PATCH a try.
How did things go for you in the beginning? I remember my first morning at PATCH. I was lying in bed on the top bunk, wondering what I’d gotten myself into, when a big hulk of a man walked in bellowing at me to get my junk out of the lobby where I’d dumped it upon arrival. This staff member ended up being a very good friend and quite influential in my life. What about your experience at PATCH was most difficult for you? Giving up control and realizing my way is not always best was a difficult lesson to learn, and probably the hardest part of my experience at PATCH. I once kept my entire peer group “hostage” for over 12 hours by refusing to remake a bed I thought was made just fine. The realization that I couldn’t win and that I was hurting others with my stubborn uncooperative attitude had a huge impact on me. What was the most positive part of your time at PATCH? The wilderness experience, hands down. I and several other guys spent 2-3 weeks living in a homemade shelter and exploring the countryside surrounding PATCH. Out there in the wilderness I was given the opportunity to do a lot of thinking – about my life, my progress at PATCH, and what I wanted for my future. I kept a journal and completed written counseling assignments. Never have I felt closer to God than when I was surrounded by the creations of His hands. I often wish I could do it again.
What kind of life are you living now? My life now is vastly different than it might have been had I never gone to PATCH. I’ve been happily married to my wonderful wife, Jennifer, for two and a half years now, and we have a beautiful 11-month-old son named Aaron. I’m a stay-at-home dad with my own photography business, an interest PATCH helped me pursue. The first wedding I shot was actually that of a PATCH staff member, and I continue to stay connected by managing a Project PATCH group on Facebook.
I was headed down a dangerous path of violence and depression and I honestly feel that PATCH saved me from a fruitless dead end. PATCH is truly a blessing and one I’m glad to say I’ve experienced first-hand.
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