My name is Great One Zachery and I am eighteen years old.
At sixteen, I became a father. I go to continuing school and work and with the help of my mom, raise my daughter Envy who is 2 years old.
At five years old, I lived in a homeless shelter with my mom and one year old sister. Tai Collins, through Camp Baywatch then but now called A Chance for Children, came into my life. I am sure having been knowing her changed my life. It seems like she has always been there. She showed me worlds I never knew existed. I have gone with her to her summer camp in Malibu where I learned to swim and saw the beach for the first time to trips all over the state. We have holidays and weekend outings and special events.
I have lived all over LA from “The Jungle” to downtown to currently at W. 20th and Vermont. The one consistent thing in my life besides my mom had been Tai.
The event that was my most favorite in all the years was going to the John R. Wooden Awards. Tai took us to a tuxedo shop. We would get to pick out whatever color we wanted in our tux and in the bow ties and stuff. One year I wore all white. I will never forget how I felt all dressed up like that. I had never had on anything that felt so good and I never felt so nice. To this day, I care about my clothes and take real pride in my clothes and how I look. It makes me feel better to be dressed nice.
Tai has given me a lifetime of love and memories of things we did. But what has made the most memory is how she showed up for us when we have struggled in life like making sure we had beds and winter coats and toys at Christmas and food. Plus she always makes sure she takes pictures and gives them to us of all of the things we do. She makes us feel loved and important.
I had lots of dreams that now I may not accomplish like going to college. Some people may not call me successful. But in the neighborhoods and schools I have grown up in, I am proud not to have gone to prison. I am proud not to have joined a gang. I have had some trouble in school and in life. I have been in juvenile court on more than one occasion and I know that is not the route I want to go. And as much as I hate it and hate letting my mom down, I don’t want to let Tai down. My mom will tell you that.
I have never had a dad present in my life. I will be a dad that is here for his daughter. And I will work hard and be responsible and give her the best life I can.
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