Hi, my name is Jeremiah Holmes and I am 22 years old. I am a proud resident of the Woodlawn community and I would like to tell you how the last 6 years of being at Sunshine has impacted my life. 

I grew up in the Woodlawn neighborhood with my mom and older sister.  My dad wasn’t around very much and as the years went on, he would come around less and less.  I remember often sitting by my window looking for him because he said he’d be there but he didn’t come. I felt like he lied to me. I felt jealous of other kids who had dads in their lives. Eventually, I just stopped expecting it.  But I always longed for that fatherly role in my life – someone who would take me outside to play sports, give me guidance, help me learn to drive a car. Even though I have an amazing mom, she couldn’t fill that role for me. 

When I was in 10th grade my friend Marquis invited me to a program at Sunshine that was called Young Life. He told me it was a cool resource center to be at because they fed us pizza or snacks, we played games like “mafia” or Dodgeball and relay races. I grew up going to church with my mom but I didn’t like it. It was boring and it didn’t seem cool to be a Christian in my eyes at that time. But when CW and Donnell, my youth leaders, talked about Jesus they made it seem cool and relevant to the things I was facing. 

One of my struggles at that time in my life was school. My high school really didn’t prepare us for the future.  During my junior year I had a terrible experience with my math course. We went through the entire year with no math teacher, just substitutes.   I just sort of slid through high school without having to do anything. It wouldn’t be until I started community college that I sat in class and realized I had no idea how to do these problems.  I felt overwhelmed and I knew I wasn’t prepared. Thankfully, Sunshine had become a big part of my life already. Staff came around me and supported me. Lauren, our Elementary Program Director, tutored me in math so I could pass the class.  Sojo made sure I was applying for the financial aid I needed and kept me on course. He also would advise me in a fatherly role. He was really caring with all the stuff going on in my life. Some of our other staff Donnell and Chuck became like big brothers to me, encouraging me and challenging me to become a better man. I felt love. 

Now I work for Sunshine and for the last three years I have been working with the elementary kids. I have managed the games and recreation portions of their day. My passion is giving kids the chance to shine. I enjoy being the creative writer for plays that we produce.  I love being able to have fun with them, being a mentor to them, and try my best to help the kids make it through the difficult things in their lives. I’m humbled to be in this role.  

As I said before, I always wanted a father and a big brother to watch out for me.  I now see how Sunshine has filled the role of father and big brother in my life and I am trying to be that for many of the kids in our programs.  A lot of them don’t have dads in their lives. I would love to be able to spend my life bringing opportunity to kids who are like me.  

Many of the people I went to high school with don’t have any direction in their lives and it worries me.  They weren’t prepared for adulthood and don’t have the same support system I have. If it wasn’t for Sunshine, I don’t know what path my life would have taken.  I’m grateful for how God has used Sunshine to help me become the man I am today.