On November 17th, 19 year old Jacoby Wright realized his dream. His Facebook post that day shared “Today is the day, no more counting the weeks or days, now, just counting hours….I am truly blessed that my friends and family have shown me what the love of God is and because of that I am able to show others the same…so thank you. Signing off now, wish me luck!” After working with a Recruiter, taking his ASVAB test and waiting for months, he was finally making the trip to Parris Island, South Carolina for boot camp.
A frequent visitor at our WCS Foster Care office, Jacoby always had a smile and a story. After 16 years in foster care, significant highs and lows, incredibly deep losses, lifelong friendships…Jacoby Wright set his sights on the United States Marine Corps. And there was no turning back. Although he’d been successful working in retail and security, even done some modeling, Jacoby wanted to be a part of something BIG. All of our fretting, worrying and questioning did not sway him from his goal. When asked at a foster care training event “why did you decide on the Marines?” without skipping a beat, he answered “Because they’re the best. I want to be part of the BEST.”
Statistics on kids like Jacoby who have grown up in the foster system and eventually “age out” as adults are not hopeful. Conservative studies find one in five will become homeless after 18; at 24, only half will be employed; less than 3% will have earned a college degree; 71% of women will be pregnant by 21; and one in four will have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder. And too often, many are at risk of moving back into government systems — from juvenile centers to prison. Jacoby could certainly tell you stories. He is connected to his biological brothers, many foster families and has “friends all over the world.” But when he set his sights on the Marine Corps, we knew he found a place to belong.
Entering Parris Island for his 13 week boot camp he heard the words “You are now aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island and you have just taken the first step toward becoming a member of the world’s finest fighting force – the United States Marine Corps. The Marine Corps’ success depends on teamwork. Starting now, you will train as a team. You will live, eat, sleep and train as a team. The word “I” will no longer be a part of your vocabulary.” Stepping forward in the tradition of so many Marines before them, the fun began.
The usually upbeat and positive Jacoby admits to thinking “What did I get myself into? Did I really make the right decision?” during certain moments of his trip to Parris Island and the ensuing 13 weeks. But when he called us on February 14th, 2014…Graduation Day…he said “It was the best decision I ever made!” Handing the phone around we all got to say our congratulations to a kid who beat the odds against him. Didn’t give up on a dream. Found his team. And did us all proud. “Say hello to Pvt Wright” was his posting on Facebook that day. And say hello to the resiliency that so many bright kids from traumatic backgrounds display every day, but is rarely shared on the local news. Now Jacoby is shipping out to California on his first assignment as a U.S. Marine. We will miss his smile in the office, but he’ll always be considered part of our Waterford Country School family. Ooorah! Pvt Wright! We. Are. SO. PROUD.
Graduation Day! For more pictures of Jacoby’s graduation day click HERE!