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Boys Town Central Florida Helps Family through Tough Times

Da’Kendrik is thriving today thanks to his great-grandmother’s care and the guidance of Boys Town Central Florida.

​​​Maxine Nelson had always put family first. So she didn't think twice when it came to deciding that she and her husband would become the primary caregivers ​​of their 10-year-old great-grandson, Da'Kendrik.

Da'Kendrik was nearly alone in the world. His mother had passed away when he was 6 and his father was never really involved in his life. The boy's grandparents also were deceased.

Maxine and her husband did the best they could to raise Da'Kendrik. But when her husband passed away, it caused tremendous financial and emotional hardships for the 83-year-old Maxine and her great-grandson. In early 2016, she lost her home of 40 years to foreclosure, and she and Da'Kendrik found themselves without a permanent place to live.

For nearly seven months, Maxine and Da'Kendrik just got by, living in sub-par surroundings. Many of Da'Kendrik's toys and Maxine's remaining home furnishings had to be placed in storage. The situation was most difficult for Da'Kendrik, who struggled in school as he tried to cope with his stress and anger.

The family's plight eventually came to the attention of Boys Town Central Florida, and Family Consultant Janae Moore began working with Maxine and Da'Kendrik.

Janae said it was very frustrating to see what Maxine was going through to keep her and her great-grandson together.

"It was a really difficult living environment and they basically had to live together in the same room," Janae said. "They also faced other tough situations like having to get by with just a mini-fridge. It was really taking a toll on both Maxine and Da'Kendrik."

Fortunately, Maxine got some unexpected help as Janae was starting her work. A neighbor named Chloe Battle met Maxine and Da'Kendrik by chance. When Chloe saw Maxine and the young boy moving in, she helped move a box because it was the neighborly thing to do. From that point on, Chloe was willing to help as much as possible.

Janae's first order ​of business was to contact local organizations that could help Maxine and Da'Kendrik find permanent housing. Once that was accomplished, Janae helped negotiate a reasonable rent. Meanwhile, Chloe contacted friends, families and churches about supporting the family with basic funds so they could get back on their feet. Chloe also recruited people to move and unload the family's belongings that had been in storage.

Besides helping with everyday living necessities, Janae also addressed Da'Kendrik's special needs.

"I helped Da'Kendrik by meeting with him weekly and teaching skills," Janae said. "I modeled positive behaviors like manners, staying calm and keeping my promises."

Janae also used games to teach the skills, which the youngster enjoyed. She took special pride in helping Maxine acquire health insurance for Da'Kendrik, who had never been to the dentist and had begun having toothaches.

As she built trust with Da'Kendrik, Janae could see him begin to show social improvement. She was able to arrange for a counselor to work with him on coping with the loss of loved ones. Janae also suggested enrolling Da'Kendrik in swimming lessons. Chloe signed him up and took him to the local YMCA twice a week.

"Chloe is amazing," Janae said. "She drives the family around, makes calls for Maxine when she needs help, you name it. Plus, she went to school meetings and acted as a tutor for Da'Kendrik twice a week. Chloe has never left them. She has been a key part in keeping them together."

Janae said it is truly satisfying to see the progress Maxine and Da'Kendrik have made.

"When I first met Da'Kendrik, he was struggling in school and was very angry, unmotivated and uncooperative," Janae said. "By the end of his Boys Town services, he was listening more to instructions, brought his grades up and just seemed to be a happier person."

For Janae Moore and Boys Town Central Florida, keeping a family together is a beautiful thing.​