Overcoming Adversity to Give Back

December 2023

Imagine feeling so desperate about your future that you jump out of a moving car on Interstate 985. With cars speeding by, Roemello found himself lying face down on the side of the highway.

Fortunate to have just a few minor scrapes, getting out of the car still didn’t help him escape the choice he had to make: stay in juvenile detention or move somewhere he’d never heard of – Eagle Ranch. He didn’t like either option.

Growing up with only his mom for support, Roemello struggled to navigate through life without a father figure. Though his mom supported him and encouraged him to seek friendship through sports like football and basketball, Roemello still felt the void in his life.

In search of male validation, Roemello turned to the streets and started hanging out with people who didn't have his best interests at heart. His delinquent behavior and habitual absence from school led to his expulsion. Eventually, he ended up in juvenile detention, which became too much for his mom to handle.

He could leave the detention center, but only if he chose to come to Eagle Ranch. As he dragged himself off the concrete and made his way back to his worried mom, Roemello decided he’d give the Ranch a chance. Skeptical and reserved when he first arrived, after just a few weeks, Roemello began feeling a sense of awakening and renewal. “The pivotal shift in my mindset occurred when I transitioned from a hazardous environment to Eagle Ranch,” he recalled.

“The environment is peaceful and helped me refocus my goals. The other kids and staff influenced me in positive ways. They recognized my talents and potential in ways I hadn’t.”

Instead of letting life happen to him, Roemello engaged in school and activities. Success fueled him. The Ranch’s basketball league gave him a rewarding physical outlet.

The small class size at Eagle Ranch School helped him catch up academically, and for the first time, saw a future he once thought unattainable.

“My overarching life goal became clear and involves attaining freedom: freedom of my mind, the ability to live where I want, and the achievement of financial freedom. I finally saw that as possible.”

But the path to achieve his goal was filled with ups and downs. After Eagle Ranch, Roemello graduated from high school and attended Tennessee State University with the help of the Ranch’s educational assistance fund. On his own, however, Roemello struggled. He left school and at one point became homeless. But even at his lowest, Roemello found a way to move forward.

“I was clinging to God more than ever and just had faith this situation wouldn’t define me. The storm wasn’t going to last forever. I called out to God to bring me out of this.” Eventually, he secured a job with Amazon. Saving his first two paychecks, he was able to find an apartment and stabilize his life.

As he reflected on his past and thought about what he wanted for his future, Roemello fondly recalled childhood memories of visiting his grandfather and getting haircuts.

"After experiencing various challenges," Roemello shared, "I revisited my goals and drew inspiration from my grandfather, a seasoned barber who successfully owned and operated Livingston Barbershop in Myrtle Beach, SC, for over 30 years.”  

Seeing Roemello’s resolve for a better life, his grandfather provided Roemello with another life-defining decision: If Roemello would commit to barber training, he could inherit Livingston Barbershop.  

“As the sole grandson, I decided I wanted to inherit his legacy,” determined Roemello. He applied to barber school, earning a scholarship. With full focus on his life goals, he recently graduated as a men’s grooming specialist. Roemello looks forward to stepping into his grandfather’s shoes and is taking his next steps toward freedom.

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