Mike came from a very poor family. He was raised by his grandmother because his parents were unable to take care of him. Although he struggled, he found his place working at Highfields and empowering kids to break the cycle.
When Mike was growing up he felt disadvantaged.
“I didn’t have the greatest background,” said Mike. “My grandmother raised me because my dad was in prison and my mom wasn’t able to take care of me because she was schizophrenic.”
However, when Mike started working at Highfields in the residential treatment program he realized that his upbringing could be used as an advantage to help struggling youth.
“When kids come into the system they think that the people helping them have never been in trouble and came from good parents,” said Mike. “I’m a prime example of showing them that their upbringing doesn’t define them.”
Mike worked as a residential counselor at Highfields for five years, and then taught at Ingham Academy for two years. Ingham Academy is a treatment program for court adjudicated youth that is operated by Highfields, Ingham County Circuit Court, Ingham Intermediate School District, and Peckham Industries.
“I’ve always had a desire to help people because I had a lot of help growing up,” said Mike. “Working with kids was right up my alley.”
Mike was teaching at Ingham Academy when the PRIDE program first opened. PRIDE is an after-school program which teaches youth about how their thoughts and feelings are connected to their actions, recognize the risk in their thinking and choose an alternate course of action.
“Residential and Ingham Academy were both good programs to work in because I got to work with kids in different walks of life and I could connect with kids who have similar backgrounds to me,” he said.
Mike enjoyed building relationships with kids and helping them realize their potential.
“The greatest moment to me is when I’m able to see kids apply the teachings they learn from us and see them grow,” said Mike.
Mike currently works as a police officer in Indiana and still uses the same principles and teachings from Highfields in his job.
“My life is about serving people, I just do it on a different level now,” said Mike. “I credit Highfields for making me the man I am today.”