Terrance is soft-spoken but holds himself with a quiet confidence. That confidence was hard-won.
When Terrance was 14, his family lost their home to domestic violence. His mother brought Terrance, his sisters and brother from Bridgeport to New London, where room could be found in a shelter.
For a shy boy, the move—away from friends and everything he’d known—was hard. Terrance says it made him stronger, but the trauma of his early years also affected his school performance. “Growing up, people told me I wasn’t smart enough. I wouldn’t get far, wouldn’t get my license. Basically, I’d have to depend on programs to get through life.”
Terrance graduated high school with poor reading and math skills. He was afraid to even try. He believed everything he’d been told about himself. Then his social worker introduced him to OPP.
With care and encouragement from OPP, Terrance slowly developed the confidence to learn. When he said “I can’t,” Sherrie Parenteau, his Youth Development Specialist at OPP, pushed back. “You’re smarter than that. You can do it!”
At OPP, Terrance did homework, studied for his driver’s license, and learned to budget. Sherrie helped him secure his first job at Ocean State Job Lot. There he learned he was capable of much more than he’d ever believed. “I could do something more,” he realized. So, with OPP’s help, he looked for a better job. And an even better job after that.
At every step—a better job, academic achievement, getting his driver’s license—he learned more about himself. And his confidence grew.
Sherrie says, “The growth over our first 2 years working together was amazing. He’s just blossomed into the most amazing young man. I’m very proud of him.”
Terrance works full-time as a spa attendant now, a job he loves. The atmosphere is tranquil, his manager respects him and his work, and he’s being given more responsibility. His goal is to manage a spa. Terrance, it turns out, has a knack for business.
To reach his goal, he’s been taking online classes in hotel and restaurant management through a fully accredited program paid for by OPP. He studies hard. The difficulty of his classwork amazes Sherrie. He plans to get his associate degree next at Three Rivers Community College—and then on to a four year college.
OPP helped him save to buy a car and find his own apartment. He’s pleased to be so independent now. But he and Sherrie still talk at least once a week. “She’s like a second mother to me,” he says.
His ambition and determination make Sherrie proud. Like so many youth who come to OPP, Terrance needed someone to believe in him so he could believe in himself.
When asked about OPP, Terrance says, “They’re like a family to you.”
Then he adds: “Keep fighting. When someone says you can’t, just keep going.”