Success Stories

Leo’s Story

Posted on November 12, 2013 by jiasiuolo
Category: Success Stories

Some people may wonder why the Outlook Foundation works to fulfill its mission. This story is just one of the many reasons…

A letter from Leo T., one of our early recipients in June 2011:

November 2013

Photo of Dr. Ransel, Leo and John in June 2011

Dr. Ransel, Leo, and John in June 2011

I came to Las Vegas on my 17th birthday. Things had not been working out at home, and through some loophole in Michigan law I could legally leave home, so I ran away. I bought a bus ticket and left with the few belongings I had. I had no plan or knowledge of what I would do but I knew about homeless shelters, and at that point I did not care.

I remember the first night, sleeping behind a bus stop.  It was the middle of December, and contrary to my presumptions about the western states, there was in fact a winter. The next day I was moved into the homeless youth shelter system. By some stroke of luck, I was sent to Desert Rose Adult High School where I was able to finally work to better myself. I will say that before this and even a bit during, I had been lost, like a shipwrecked sailor; at the mercy of my environment. I had no dreams really, because I had forgotten what it was like for things to be normal. Desert Rose gave me a chance to take control of my situation, and I was finally able to succeed. The principal, Dr. Ransel, gave me permission to take night courses and day courses, when I asked her with hungry eyes. More often than not, I would spend more time at the school than at the shelter.

It was exciting, but scary at the same time, because I knew that the next steps were coming under my feet much faster than I had anticipated. Before I knew it, I had enough credits to graduate, and the school year still had months left before the end. Dr. Ransel had been helping me find financial aid and other information to help me prepare for college. I had never been taught any of that by anyone before, and she also helped me find places to get clothing, food, and other necessities. It was more kindness than I was used to. It was through her that I was introduced to John and Christine.

Photo of Leo T. in 2013

Leo in Nov. 2013

I was incredibly surprised when I found out that they wanted to give a computer to me. I couldn’t understand at first, why someone would care to give me, just another homeless teenager, another face in a sea of people, a valuable gift like this, and after visiting and getting to know John and his wife Christine, I realized that that was just the people they were. They cared, and I think that was a gift that changed me the most.

The laptop ended up being a major asset as I started taking classes at CSN [College of Southern Nevada]. I cannot even guess how I would have been able to do without it. From bus routes, to typing up papers, to PowerPoints and online tests; without it I would have had to somehow live in the library and subside on the prickly pear cactuses growing outside on campus (something I already did when there wasn’t time for breakfast). And when I decided to start my career, it became my primary tool for networking and arranging meetings.

Now I can look back and truly see how much I was blessed by the Outlook Foundation and how their gift impacted my life so immensely. It did change my life, and it changed how I saw life, from an angry sad homeless teen, wondering why they would care, to knowing that people can care, and that I can care, and that I will always be thankful for.

-Leo T.