Over the Edge

John Hoyle overcomes challenges on the way to success

(BEAUMONT, Texas) – John Hoyle is expressive and talkative. He has the energy of someone with a direction, a purpose. Tall and thin, he’s seemingly made out of angles and edges.

John knows edges. An abuse survivor, he’s lived on them for much of his life. But now he’s on a new edge, the edge of a new life as a college student after he graduates from high school and leaves the campus of Buckner Children’s Village, where he’s been a resident for almost three years. And he’s ready to go over that edge.

“I’m going to Lamar Institute of Technology,” he says proudly. “The staff here has helped me grow up a lot. But they’ve also shown me that I need to do everything I have to do if I’m going to make it on my own.”

Without Buckner, he admits, he wouldn’t be on the edge of success – probably skirting the edge of failure. “Without Buckner, I wouldn’t be going to college. I was looking at dead-end jobs for the rest of my life. I came here when I was 15. My grades were OK, but I wouldn’t be getting a scholarship. I would’ve been one more high school graduate working in fast food.”

“I was really rebellious when I first came here,” he recalls. “The second day I got into a fight. The first six months here I got into fights. I don’t let that stuff get into my head anymore. If I let it, I would walk out of here in handcuffs and not be able to go to college. I have college paid for. I’m not risking that.”

He realizes that Buckner is his best chance for a future. “If I go home, there will be nothing for me,” he says, explaining he was placed in residential care because of “abuse from substance abuse by my parent.

“I’ve turned my life around here, though. When I was with my dad, I would fight. I came back from a foster home and went to Buckner – in the East Meadows House. I was here a month and thought, ‘This is where I need to stay.’

“The message was not to fight,” he says. “They let me know why I was here and that If I didn’t change, I would face the consequences. I had a lot of guys tell me what it was like in other places or jail. I changed.”

But fear of jail isn’t what changed him, he says. “We also got active in church events. When I came here, I was an iffy Christian. I’d been saved, but didn’t know what to do with it. I turned around a lot of my stuff and got on the right track.”

He also has had mentors that have guided him through troubling times, he adds. “Mrs. Caroline (Brown) – she’s staff here -- had everyone in the house doing what they’re supposed to. And Mr. Greg (Eubanks), Mr. Boomer (Jeff Edmonds) and Mr. Jeff (Ross) have helped me with advice when I ask, ‘What am I supposed to do?’”

Now, on the edge of a new life of college and career, he looks forward to continued help from Buckner in the form of TRAIL, or Transitioning to Responsible Adult Independent Living.

“Mr. Kevin (Garriga, TRAIL program manager) will make sure I’m going to stay on my goals,” John says. “We’ve already talked and he’s told me he’s not going to help me if I’m not going to help myself. Why should he? If I’m not going to work, he won’t.

“I know you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”

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