At 9 years old, Jeromey was pretty much raising himself. After working long hours, his brain-injured single mother didn’t have much time, energy or emotional fortitude left at the end of the day. When he was placed at Amarillo Children’s Home with only 6 weeks left in the 1986-87 school year, Jeromey was primed to fail fourth grade. But after 6 weeks within the structure of family life at ACH, Jeromey was on the honor roll, and he was able to move up with the rest of his class.
Jeromey learned more at ACH than simply how to succeed at school He learned good hygiene. He learned how to be respectful, how to interact positively with others and how to speak correctly. He learned through experience that actions have consequences – doing right led to freedom while behaving poorly led to extra chores. Jeromey thrived on the structure provided.
He also flourished as a result of relationships he formed with caring adults who poured into his life – a set of House Parents he still considers family; an Activities Director and her husband who took him swimming, camping and horseback riding, and who were a constant in his life when planned visits from his mother failed to materialize.
This same Activities Director, Dana, introduced Jeromey to gymnastics, and when Jeromey was excited to find something he loved and was particularly good at, Dana secured classes for him from several local gyms. Most importantly, ACH encouraged his relationship with God. Jeromey was saved and baptized when he was 12 years old at Coulter Road Baptist Church.
Just barely into his 9th-grade year, Jeromey’s mother took him home to much the same situation he had left. Like many high schoolers, 14-year-old Jeromey did not have the self-discipline necessary to continue to do well in school without a home structure in place to support him. At 16, he dropped out, got a job and got his GED.
A brief stint at a community college introduced him to an acquaintance who inspired him to join the Air Force. Right away, Jeromey knew he had found his place and his passion. Jeromey had numerous assignments and several deployments during his 25 years as an Airman. He ended his career at the Air Force Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Academy. Incredibly, the high school dropout with only a GED taught courses worth college credit for his final three years in the military. Jeromey retired from the Air Force this summer (2022) and is now working as a civilian contractor at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama as a Language Development Coordinator for the Air Force Culture and Language Center.
Jeromey points to the stark difference between his life and the lives of his brothers who did not have the benefit of living at ACH, both of whom have been incarcerated, as proof that his life is on a different path because he lived here. But he is quick to point out it is up to each individual to take advantage of what is offered. We cannot give a child restoration, we can only lead them to it. Not everyone who lived at ACH at the same time as Jeromey went on to a full, healthy life. Some made grievous decisions which led to destruction. Jeromey uses their opposing stories as examples as he teaches his children that their choices ultimately shape their lives.
Many of the lessons Jeromey learned and internalized at ACH helped him succeed in the military, and he passed that wisdom on to his son, Luke, who is now in JROTC and plans to join the Air Force when he graduates high school in 2023. Luke is the highest-ranking student in his outfit, Cadet Battalion Commander and proof positive of the power of generational change. Amarillo Children’s Home was not only a blessing to Jeromey, but to his children and their children and their children.
Your investment in ACH reaches into the future to impact generations.