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Dillon Faces Promising Future

September 1, 2009

By W. James Edminson

The smell of sausage lingers in the Kennedy Home cottage. Child care worker Kisha Little cooks a hearty breakfast most every morning. The boys show their appreciation helping to clean the kitchen and to put away the dishes.

The boys escape the hot, morning, eastern Carolina heat by watching a movie. But when the sun sets below the tree line in the late afternoon, they will spend as much time as daylight allows shooting hoops and playing pick-up basketball games.

Sixteen-year-old Dillon describes Kennedy Home in Kinston as a “good place.”

“They help people,” he says. “They work hard to help kids and families put their lives back together. They help them work through their problems.”

Dillon was born on the west coast near San Diego. When he was four years old, he was removed from his birth mother’s custody. At age five, he went to live with his dad – a man who had not been aware he was Dillon’s father.

“I was kind of scared,” he says, “but it was better. My older, half-brother Justin helped me.”

Dillon started school, and soon it was evident he found it difficult to concentrate. He was often disruptive, and he turned the spotlight into opportunities to be the class clown. Dillon’s father met and married a lady, moving with Dillon and Justin to North Carolina. The boys’ new family grew with the addition of step-siblings.

In North Carolina, Dillon’s behavior began to change. Anger and rebellion began to manifest itself as he argued with his dad and new mom.

“I was rebellious,” Dillon recalls. “I was angry with my real mom in California. I blamed her for everything bad that happened to me.”

He began to steal and cover up his actions by lying. His grades failed. The “A-B” student remembers vividly the first “F” he made on a report card.

“At the time, I didn’t know why I did some of the things I did,” he says. “I see things a lot clearer now.”

His parents knew they faced daunting challenges and sought help for their blended family. There were therapy sessions and a stint when Dillon attended a nine and a half month residential camp program – but to no avail. And then a friend referred the family to Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH).

Dillon maintained an “I don’t care” attitude. He was determined not to change. He would put on the face, play the game, and go home.

“The problem was,” he recalls, “I began to like being here.”

BCH staff members began to break through Dillon’s hard exterior. He started to feel they really cared about him.

“I realized I wasn’t a bad kid,” he says, “I just made some really bad choices.”

Although Dillon is on daily medication, it is difficult to remain still. His toe taps and he fidgets. He speaks rapidly.

“I’m going to be like this my whole life,” Dillon says. “But I don’t have to be controlled by it. I’m smart. I’m a leader. Kids look up to me.”

Dillon dreams of being on his own. He has college plans and hopes one day to be a history teacher.

“I want to go home,” Dillon confesses, “but I feel I might not be ready.”

He loves his mom and dad. He is determined to make them proud.

“My parents never gave up on me,” Dillon says. “I want to be there for them.”

And Dillon knows his mom and dad love the people at Kennedy Home who have meant so much to him.

“They know they have helped me, and they have helped our family,” he confides.