I suppose my story begins as so many of ours do, from a broken home. I was the second to last of six siblings and my parents divorced when I was very young. I can’t even remember them being married. As I got older, I came to realize that my siblings and I became just another venue for my parents to continue fighting. We were sent back and forth between parents, typically in groups, as soon as one or the other parent was getting ahead. Needless to say, the arrival of six children into a step-mother/father situation came with its own set of difficulties and conflict. The constant moving around the country never really allowed any of us to get settled.
I entered BHGH of New Orleans at the beginning of sixth grade. At the time, I was a very annoying, socially awkward boy without much hope for the future and on the verge of making some self-destructive decisions. BHGH rescued me by providing stability, guidance, and a home.
Stability came with the daily grind of life in the home. Every day, I knew when and what there was to eat. I had a schedule for the first time. I had a time to play, a time to study, a time to eat, and a time to sleep. At first, this change was difficult for me. I was so used to fending for myself, and doing what I wanted when I wanted. I rebelled. Eventually, with the never-ending (well sometimes ending) patience of the house parents, I settled in and began to thrive in that environment.
While the schedule was nearly immediate, the guidance I received came over a longer period. The idea of actually going to college took a long time to sink in. Acceptable grades were slow coming for me, and I did not have any long-term goals. I needed to be convinced of my own self-worth before college even became an option in my mind. Eventually, with tutoring and long hours spent at the kitchen table with Sister Francis Regis, CSJ, I began to make goals for myself and plan a path to achieve them. With some convincing, college became one of those goals.
Finally, BHGH gave me a home. It was the first time I lived in one place for more than a year or two. I learned how to make lasting relationships with people and communicate more effectively. I learned how to look up to mentors and become mentor myself. I won’t kid you and say I loved every minute (sometimes I hated it, and actively tried to leave), but in the end, it is without a doubt the best thing to ever happen to me.
The rest is history; I graduated from Jesuit High School in New Orleans, LA, in 1996. I followed high school with four years at St. Anselm College on a BHGH scholarship where I received my BA with a major in Biochemistry. After college, I pursued a career in aviation by joining the US Navy in February 2001 and earning my Naval Aviator wings as a helicopter pilot in the summer of 2002. I have had the honor of leading some of our country’s finest through the last 15 years of war, but my most memorable mission was when I flew a helicopter into New Orleans the day after Katrina devastated the city (but that’s a story for another day).
I am currently married to an amazing woman, Vickie, and have three wonderful daughters. I am looking forward to retiring from naval service and finding stable roots again with my family. Hopefully, where I can begin to repay the debt I owe to the BHGH community.
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