This is one of a series of stories about the nonprofit agencies that receive money from The Gazette/El Pomar Foundation Empty Stocking campaign that runs through the holidays.
It only took one month in an independent living house to change - and maybe save - 16-year-old Monte's life.
Monte, whose full name is not being used to protect his privacy, realized that the staff at the Griffith Centers for Children weren't going to give up on him, so he stopped giving up on himself.
When the Department of Human Services removed Monte from his home and placed him in the center's program, the teenager was reluctant to accept help. However, therapy and persistence brought him through.
"I made some poor choices when I was younger and they just kind of snowballed from there, getting into more trouble when I was older," said Monte, now 18. "By the time I was 16, I was kicked out of school, arrested all that stuff."
The Griffith Centers for Children offers a multitude of community aid through Chins Up Youth and Family Services, including crisis respite care, therapeutic foster homes, family preservation programs and training for volunteers. For Monte, the organization provided him with the opportunity to turn his life around in a "complete 180," he said.
"Before, I was definitely capable to go to school, but not motivated to do anything," he said.
Monte's early teenage years consisted of doing drugs - "I was using a lot," he said - and playing video games. The lack of structure and motivation in his life led to turbulent and criminal times.
He has since abandoned that lifestyle, and is studying computer science at Pikes Peak Community College full-time and has been holding down steady work. Monte has ambitions to continue his success, all of which he says is thanks to the Griffith Centers organization.
"Ultimately, I want to transfer to a four-year university instead of community college, go to a better school, get a job and keep living," he said.
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