Meet Kai, a quiet 17 years old who, at the age of 12, fell into a hard life filled with gang violence, drug dealing, and shootings. He was hanging out with the wrong people, getting in trouble repeatedly, and had suicidal thoughts. In and out of placements over the years, Kai was given the opportunity to come to Rawhide to help him find the right path and improve his mental health.

When he shared what it was like when he came to Rawhide, he said “The staff are good, but I struggled with the other kids until they got to know me more” adding, “I am like the kid that hides in the shadows until I get to know someone.”

Working with his therapist, Kai is now speaking up more and making friends. When asked how his experience at Rawhide has changed him, he said, “Yes, I am still quiet once in a while, but I get to know people a lot more. I have a lot of friends here; the staff like me, and I like the kids. It’s fun.”

In addition to speaking up more, Kai has begun taking kids under his wing and showing them the right path. He understands that everyone has their bad days, including himself, and says “You always have to learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward.”

Kai, a senior at Starr Academy with two more credits to graduate, plans to pursue a career as an auto-mechanic.

When asked what advice he would give to his future self when things get hard, Kai said “never give up on life, keep fighting and fighting.”

Kai’s message to Donors: “Thank you for caring about kids, thank you for everything!”