Seventeen year old high school senior, Kendal Benjamin, is a star player, hard worker and an outstanding student, and yet, Benjamin’s story appears to have a dark side to it: the student moved away from his mother and currently resides in a homeless shelter.
The determined teenager made the difficult decision when his living circumstances forced him to make a tough choice. “Sometimes you have to work through stuff, you have to persevere,” Benjamin said. “I’ve learned to be patient. The reason we’re in this situation is because my mom wasn’t patient.” His current place of stay is at Palmetto Place Children’s Shelter, and despite the hard life, it has made him persistent and strong to achieve his dreams.
The boy and his mother had been flitting from shelter to shelter since he was 10 years old. He decided to finally move when he found a spot at the local shelter. “Me and my mom were struggling real bad, and she wasn’t able to support me,” He said. “There was no point in her trying to help me out when she couldn’t help herself out.”
Benjamin’s father had been a missing fixture in his life, and so the high school student ventured out on his own while his mother moved into a transitional home for adults. Despite bleak circumstances, Benjamin keeps up a positive stance and even shares stories of his shelter in the best way possible. His school work is exceptional and he is a star player on a couple of his high school sports’ teams. For Benjamin, education and athletics is the key to leave this tough life behind.
“School offers me a place to do better,” He commented. “It gives me a chance so I can get out of here.”
Sharlee Dixon, Benjamin’s social worker at school, confirmed his strengths as a student and person.
“What I think is special about Kendal is that he does not allow his situation to stop him,” she said. “I’ve seen children in the same situation take it as the worst thing in world. They can’t see a future for themselves. I’ve also seen them use it as a crutch. They have a sense of entitlement that the world owes them something. Kendal is the exact opposite of both of those. He doesn’t feel like we owe him anything, except to give him his education so he can move forward.”