Helping Youth Turn Struggle into Strength

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By age 23, Maxwell Fields had already experienced far too much loss: His father had died from a drug overdose, his best friend had committed suicide, and Maxwell no longer had any emotional stability to cope with these crises. Like countless youths in Orange County, tragedy had gotten the best of him. He was in over his head, struggling with drug addiction and in desperate need of support.

Although Maxwell thought his future was hopeless, with the help of Waymakers he learned how to transform his life. Today Maxwell is finding success through our Youthful Offender Wraparound (YOW) Full-Service Partnership. Through YOW, he received career training, and job placement assistance to empower him to overcome difficult challenges, achieve sustainability and develop a happy, healthy life. Maxwell now has a brand-new catering career.

Maxwell has also learned to express himself and envision a better life. He is grateful to his YOW team for filling a positive role after the tragic loss of his father and enabling him to overcome homelessness. “The best lesson I’ve learned through my time in YOW has been to develop skills and a more positive way of communicating,” Maxwell says.

Thanks to Waymakers YOW program, Maxwell has enjoyed barbeques in the park, beach trips, rock climbing, arts activities, and more that have been great outlets for coping with tragedy, building relationships, and helping him to get his life back on track. Programs such as YOW that use creative arts, enrichment activities, therapy, counseling, career development workshops, and social outings are vital to young people like Fields; these Waymakers initiatives serve over 10,000 young people each year and produce results such as a 45% reduction in incarceration rates, a 70% increase in work experience, and a 72% decrease in days of homelessness, thus enabling young people to avoid the juvenile justice system.

Maxwell noted, “We are all trying to overcome something and escape the feeling of being stuck. Waymakers has provided me with education, support, resources and productive outlets to channel my frustration and better express myself.”

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