Born in Queens, and raised in Norfolk, Tyreek’s mother passed away when he was five and “My father wasn’t really here, so I was raised by my aunt with my brother and her two sons. She was like a mother to me. I call her ‘mom’ just like she was my biological mother.”
While he was in high school, Tyreek worked at Dollar General and was promoted to Assistant Manager. “I was the youngest they had ever promoted to that position. They were going to give me my own store until they found out how young I was, because I wasn’t old enough to run a store that sold alcohol. Things were good for a while, but then someone accused me of stealing. The store video proved I hadn’t stolen anything, so I just left. I didn’t want to work somewhere that accused me of that.”
Tyreek was living with his aunt and they had a good and close relationship, but they started drifting apart. “I was feeling lonely and started hanging out with the wrong crowd, just to feel like I was needed somewhere. I was coming home late sometimes and we got into this huge fight over an 8 o’clock curfew. It just broke out, not physical, and I didn’t put my hands on her, but it got kind of intense. She told me to go and pack my things, so I took my stuff and left the house.
I stayed with a friend in his dorm at ODU for two months. I wasn’t going to school at the time.” When the semester ended and his friend had to leave, Tyreek came to the Mission. “I didn’t expect to be treated so well. I mean, I have heard some people say some bad things, but when I came here, I thought I was in the palace of homeless shelters. I thought they were all just lying about it honestly. At first I was very quiet and didn’t want to talk to anybody, but they were very welcoming to me, making me feel comfortable. My Case Manager was Mr. Evans, and then Ms. Confer. They pushed me to go back to school and referred me to the David Development Program and now I have Mr. Metcalf [Program Director].
I love the David Program. It made me connect with some guys that I wouldn’t have connected with if we were just at school or down the street. It made me see things from their perspective, how their lives are, to put myself in their shoes, and be more understanding. They pushed me to finish high school and I graduated on June 15th. Now, I am learning how to trust in Jesus; how to be the bigger man in a situation when things go bad. I wasn’t a believer all the time. When I was growing up, my mother’s father was a pastor, but I was drifting when my life was plummeting, so I just stopped believing. It was all very questionable to me.”
Tyreek moved into his own place in one of the David houses on his birthday in July, but “I am still participating. I am looking for a good job with good pay and have money in my savings account.”
He has six months left before he graduates from the Program. “It taught me the values of life, like not to always give up. I can see myself owning my own clothing business someday, and am applying to attend ODU as a business major for the spring semester. If it wasn’t for the Mission, I honestly don’t know where I would be. The Mission and Mr. Metcalf have been a really great help. It’s like a beautiful home. When people think of homeless shelters, you think of people sleeping on a mat on the floor, but that’s not what it’s like here. I want to say thank you to everybody that has actually believed in me, and helped me get out of a tough situation. I am always willing to give back to them. I still come here to give back and do community service. Yesterday I helped out in the kitchen. People asked me why I was here. I told them ‘I’ve got to give back.’ ”
From Eric Metcalf, David Development Program Director – Aug 11, 2018
“At 18 years of age and being displaced, Mr. Tyreek McKinney came to us this past April seeking shelter. While working full-time and residing at the Mission, Mr. McKinney was able to complete high school and earn his diploma. Following his established IGSP (DDP “Grow-up” Plan), Mr. McKinney went on to apply, test (scored high), and be accepted into Tidewater Community College, where he will be starting classes this fall semester. SIDE NOTE: on the day of registering, Mr. McKinney and I just so happened to run into TCC Provost, Mr. Emanuel Chestnut. At seeing us, Provost Chestnut extended a hearty welcome to our young Mr. McKinney, gave him his card, and requested he contact him personally if he had any trouble getting acclimated to school. What a contact to have!
Please encourage and congratulate this young man for overcoming, as the world would see it, insurmountable odds, and staying steadfast in his desire to change his situation. Mr. McKinney is now residing at our David House, city of Norfolk, and no longer just surviving – but thriving as an AfterCare David. I’d like to extend thanks to his Case Manager, Ms. Kathy Confer for your guidance and support helping this young man escape being an unfortunate statistic.”
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