Our Scholar Athlete

 In any given year, IHN/SC serves more children than adults through our continuum of care.  We rejoice in every graduation of our juvenile clients from pre-school through high school and celebrate every achievement as they make the honor roll or “student of the month”, perform in dance recitals and plays or display their artwork.  This Spring we had one of “our kids” graduate high school, enter a 5 year Masters degree program and receive a full football scholarship.  Matt has graciously permitted us to share his story with our many supporters.

 Matt and his family came to our Emergency Shelter Program in the Summer of 2009.  At age 15, he was the oldest of three children.  Matt and his brother and sister had grown up in Franklin Township until the family lost their home due to foreclosure.  A journey to Mississippi to live with grandparents for a year eventually led to a return to New Jersey and referral to IHN/SC.  Even for the one year time period in a brand new high school in Mississippi, Matt became completely involved including playing on the school’s undefeated Freshman football team.  Matt recounts that “ever since I was little I played all the time in Franklin in Pop Warner and flag football in Hillsborough and then playing defense in Mississippi.”  Three months after they joined our Emergency Shelter Program, the family moved to their own apartment in Manville and continued in our Phase 2 Transitional Support Program.  Matt immediately made “tons of friends” and immediately got a job at Quick Check, part time.  He balanced school and work with participation in the athletic program at Manville High School where he played football for 3 years, wrestled for 1 year and participated in track and field for 2 years.

This Fall, Matt will be attending Fairleigh Dickinson University on a football scholarship, playing right guard, #61.  Planning for a future beyond college is a priority for Matt that he has learned through the struggle of homelessness.  He is matriculating in the Quest Program at Fairleigh; this is a 5 year academic program that will permit him to graduate in 5 years with a Masters degree in Education.  His concentration will be history.

Needless to say, the staff of IHN/SC are now serious fans of Fairleigh Dickinson football.  We encourage all of our supporters who have helped Matt’s family to achieve independence to attend the games, cheering loudly for #61.  We are sure that he will be a talented right guard  and asset to the University and ultimately, an amazing teacher and role model for his future students.  Way to go Matt!

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