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Austin’s Story

Austin was 18 when he came to the Shaw House for the first time in 2013. At that time, he lacked self confidence and motivation, had dropped out of school during his junior year and had very few support systems in place. He started staying in the shelter and working with case management in the basic center to establish goals and identify needed services. As Austin began to receive support and services, he started to feel better about himself and soon started to take an interest in improving his life, although he continued to lack motivation at times.

After staying in the shelter for a few months, Austin moved into the transitional program at Shaw House, a longer-term placement that teaches youth the tools necessary to prepare for life as adults. He also started to attend the Carleton Project, the on-site school program, in pursuit of his high school diploma. Austin responded positively to the structure and support of the transitional program and was able to meet most of the expectations of living there. Although he was not able to maintain long-term employment at that time, Austin received a lot of encouragement on his school work and dedicated his efforts.

Shortly before completing his high school requirements, Austin learned that he had another opportunity for something that most people take for granted; a healthy, positive relationship with his mother. The thought of moving to Florida to live with his mother was a distraction for Austin but the continued support and encouragement he received proved to be the stronger force. Austin’s hard work paid off and he received his diploma in June 2014 and moved to Florida not long afterwards.

Although he had been looking forward to improving the relationship with his mother, the move did not work out. While they struggled to get along, his mother struggled with her own issues and Austin came back to Maine after about six weeks, returning to the Shaw House at the end of July 2014.

The disappointment of the failed move to Florida affected Austin’s motivation and confidence. He was again staying in the shelter and meeting with case managers in the basic center but not putting much effort into changing his situation. Staff and case managers reminded Austin that it was only a temporary set-back and that his stay in the shelter could only be temporary. He was strongly encouraged to take charge of his life and resumed services that he previously had in place.

Something changed in Austin’s outlook and he became motivated to work on his goals again. He received housing assistance and moved into his own apartment in February 201S. Austin continued to participate in the basic center and took advantage of the support and resources available to him. He applied for many jobs and eventually was hired by a Bangor restaurant in May of this year.

Fast forward to today. Austin is now 20, maintaining his apartment and working full-time at his restaurant job. He loves his job, has been given greater responsibilities and corresponding increased pay. He continues to access the basic center, although less frequently due to his work schedule, and is considering furthering his education, possibly in the food services industry.