This is Brandon.

When he was younger, he “started running with the wrong kids.”

At 16 years old, school wasn’t a priority and his entire friend group was in their 20s. He was using and selling drugs, fighting a lot, and justified it to himself because his friends all did it, too. He came and went as he saw fit and did whatever he wanted.

One day, his mom picked him up from school for a “probation meeting.” She was actually bringing him home to two transporters who were taking him to a correctional school in the middle of the desert in Nevada. Every freedom Brandon had enjoyed quickly became a distant memory.

Surprisingly, he excelled at the correctional school. He applied himself to his work and graduated after only nine months from a program that often lasted more than a year for other students.

When he got back from the correctional school, Brandon did everything he could to separate from his past decisions to be successful in school and in life. He succeeded as he finished his schooling, connected to a new community of friends, went on to marry his wife, and manage his own business.

Recently, he realized something was missing. He and his wife have struggled to find a place where they truly connect.

“There was a hole. It was an emotional gap that we couldn’t bridge.”

When they first started coming to Real Life, they were surprised by what they saw.

“On my first Sunday, the pastor got on stage with gauges in. My second week, the pastor had a beard down to his chest. We started thinking, this place is for us.”

They were most moved when Paule and Rachel came to the hospital after their child was born and prayed with them. Since then, they have been participating in full force. He started working with students to help them fundraise for high school camp, and he started mentoring a student who is working their way through military school.

Brandon wants to help students learn what he learned without all the heartache he experienced. He is so glad to be connected to a community where he is part of something bigger.

Today, at 25 years old, he is happily married and a father. He looks forward to raising his kid in a better community than he grew up in and mentoring students in life outside of school.