HOUSTON (AP) — Miracle Washington-Tribble didn't see much hope for her future. At 16 and already a single mother, she wasn't going to school, had been in numerous fights and lacked ambition to turn her life around.
Then in August she was introduced to Eight Million Stories, a Houston program that helps 14- to 18-year-olds who have either quit or been kicked out of school continue their education, find employment and receive emotional support.
"At first I never saw myself getting a job or even finishing school," Washington-Tribble said. "I never went to school and I was doing bad stuff. But when I got here they motivated me to keep coming to school. I didn't see me having a future. But they help you with your dreams and goals. It motivated me and I see a future now."
Four months later, Washington-Tribble barely resembles that person. She has a job and is on track to receive her GED at the end of January. But most importantly, the petite teenager with a radiant smile has hope for a better life.
"Miracle has turned her entire life around just being involved in this program," said Marvin Pierre, the program's cofounder and executive director. "Eight Million Stories filled a big gap in her life, which was love and finding a support system that she could tap into. And to see where she was in August and to see where she is now in terms of what she believes is possible for her future is just really a testament to the amazing staff that we have."
Last week Washington-Tribble and fellow Eight Million Stories participant Jadon Cofield received a Christmas surprise for their newfound success: They went on a shopping spree with Houston Texans receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Kenny Stills.
The students knew about the shopping spree when they arrived at the Houston Galleria last week, but had no idea that Hopkins and Stills would join them for a day of fun. When the two walked in, the teenagers beamed and gasped with excitement before sharing handshakes and hugs with the players.
Both Hopkins and Stills have been working with Eight Million Stories and raved about the importance of the program.
"You can actually see the difference that they're making in kids," Hopkins said. "It gives kids a second chance. A lot of times when kids get in trouble they might get labeled or judged for mistakes that they made at a young age. This program right here gives kids an opportunity to better themselves after messing up or doing something that kids might do."
Cofield has been involved with the program since May and has gotten back on track after struggling with bad influences and not succeeding in traditional schools. He is also scheduled to receive his GED at the end of January, and his involvement in the program has helped nurture his love of music. Cofield recently penned a song about Hopkins and was thrilled when Hopkins FaceTimed him at Eight Million Stories so he could perform the song for his favorite receiver.
"Whatever you want to push forward they help you build that and do that because they know that's important to you," Cofield said. "Like me with my music, they've been helping me with putting effort toward music and gave me an opportunity to make a song for DeAndre Hopkins ... and when I did it for him it just felt amazing."