Last Christmas didn’t look promising for two young brothers whose lives consisted of living on the streets, drug deals, and gang initiations. Up until nine months ago, the brothers whom we will call Troy and Devon only had a 10th-grade education and no hope for the future.

As a consequence of having a mother hooked on heroin, the brothers spent their lives separated from each other, in and out of foster homes and jail. At age 18 the boys outgrew foster care and dropped out of high school. They were welcomed into adulthood by taking to the streets for survival.

Absent from any type of guidance or compassion and not being taught the difference between right and wrong, the brothers took to a life of crime. The only source the boys had for learning values was gangs. Both young men landed themselves in Riker’s Island jail —- a facility known for guards more dangerous than the inmates and a “deep-seated culture of violence.”

Unconditional love, nurturing, and stability was foreign to Troy and Devon until they reunited with each other last Christmas. Once the two hooked-up with each other, their bond turned into a new level of survival.

Thanks to The Doe Fund and a lot of hard work and commitment on the part of the brothers to change their lives — this Christmas was an entirely different scenario.

Finding each other in dire straits last Christmas turned into a life-changing experience for Troy and Devon. They became a support system for each other that enabled them to earn their GEDs, obtain above minimum wage jobs, and save enough money for their own apartment. Together the brothers achieved a miracle.

The Doe Fund was a significant contributor to the boys’ dream. The charitable organization acted as a family to Troy and Devon — making it financially possible for the boys to achieve their goals.

The trust behind the Doe Fund is that investing in troubled young adults has eternal benefits. The positive outcomes extend far beyond Troy and Devon’s transformation –the Doe Fund understands how viable contributions to society, families, and communities are priceless.

The legacy of disparity the young men have overcome will continue to produce benefits throughout the rest of their lives. 

Crime, addiction, and homelessness are only symptoms of a much bigger picture. The true realism of this festering social problem is we have turned our heads the other way for far too long.      

The definition of a miracle is, “A highly improbable or extraordinary event, development, or accomplishment that brings very welcome consequences.”

Troy and Devon’s circumstances this Christmas are a result of belief in an unlikely part of humanity that has usually failed. 

 A miracle or a gift? Perhaps both.

These young men were given the gift of dignity. Troy and Devon were offered an opportunity to earn an honest living by completing their education and someone taking the time to help them recognize their talents.

The miracle is someone willing to offer the gift and the gift graciously received.      

About Christopher Zoukis, MBA

Christopher Zoukis, MBA, is the Managing Director of the Zoukis Consulting Group, a federal prison consultancy that assists attorneys, federal criminal defendants, and federal prisoners with prison preparation, in-prison matters, and reentry. His books include Directory of Federal Prisons (Middle Street Publishing, 2020), Federal Prison Handbook (Middle Street Publishing, 2017), Prison Education Guide (PLN Publishing, 2016), and College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American Prisons (McFarland & Company, 2014).

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