One of the first things that Macey remembers about Horton’s Kids is running away from his tutor, Allison. “I was giving her a hard time, but she kept coming to tutoring every week,” Macey said. Eventually, Allison’s commitment to Horton’s Kids won over the 11-year-old. “She wasn’t going to leave me hanging or skip out on me, so I decided to work with her. My mind was focused in this neighborhood, but she gave me a different perspective on life; that this world is bigger than just this street or this parking lot.”

When Macey was 12, his 17-year-old brother, Charles, was shot and killed while walking his girlfriend to a bus stop. Charles, who was not involved in gangs or drugs, was “like a father” to Macey and his five siblings. “It devastated us; I didn’t want anybody to know what I was going through,” Macey said.

In the years following, he had a difficult time in school, where he often got suspended. “It was hard,” he said. “When you go to school, the other boys who don’t like your neighborhood, they fight you. I had to fight at school a lot of times.”

Through it all, Allison continued to encourage Macey to finish high school. Working together with Horton’s Kids, she researched alternative schools, and Macey completed his GED through the YouthBuild program in 2011. Then, Macey joined AmeriCorps where he was part of a large group of Colorado firefighters who battled the Black Forest Fire, an incredibly destructive fire for the state.

Now back in DC, Macey works as a legal assistant. He continues to talk often with Allison, whom he describes as his mentor. “She always told me I could be whatever I wanted to be,” Macey said. “More and more people telling you the same thing – you start believing it.”