Raised in Miami by his single mom and grandfather, Kenneth loved music. He was in the band throughout high school, so talented that he was awarded a scholarship to Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach. “I was in the big [Florida] Classic each year,” Kenneth proudly states.
Majoring in Liberal Studies and minoring in Business at B-CU as “a positive thing to help me make money,” Kenneth’s aspirations were upended in his senior year. “I wasn’t liking my classes. They were very broad and I would need a Master’s Degree [to be successful.]” That’s when his love of music took a front seat once again and he realized, “I wanted to do radio. I didn’t want to be a musician, but wanted to be involved in the music industry. Radio was a gateway.”
With newfound self-knowledge and impending college degree, Kenneth now had a direction until, one month before graduation, his world changed. Needing money, and having no family financial support, he made a terrible decision. Kenneth got arrested and charged for felony theft. His atonement was probation and restitution, and the lifelong effects of having a record. “The fastest and easiest way out is not the best way; it has consequences,” he admits.
Feeling that his “degree is not going to mean anything because I have a record,” Kenneth moved with his girlfriend to Orlando. He found out quickly that his offense did overshadow the new college degree, as the only job he could find was in telephone travel sales. “I hated it. I didn’t believe it was necessary to tell someone they need to go on vacation when they’re not prepared.” Needless to say, he got fired. Out of work for a month, he was hired as a part-time Marketing Assistant by a dinner theater on International Drive. They believed in second chances and all was good!
But life swung another blow, as he lost his relationship and place to live. He was homeless. Luckily, others believed in second chances and he had his love of music. “I moved in with a friend; got an internship with a radio personality, while still working on I-Drive; and got a part-time opportunity with the station a year later…working in promotions. That’s when I felt I’m okay; I’m still normal.” That was April 2017 and the station was 104.5 The Beat.
Kenneth’s was introduced to Pathlight HOME in December 2017, when 104.5 The Beat served lunch and supplied music for our Resident Holiday Party. He volunteered that day; met some of our residents; and found out about our affordable housing. As he’d wanted to live on his own, an idea took root and he soon applied to move into Maxwell Terrace Apartments. We welcomed him as a resident in March 2018.
“It’s the first time being on my own,” he says. “I was able to get the second job at the [dinner theater] to better take care of myself and still struggled. So I got a third job at a concert venue.” There, he sets up concerts and helps seat the audience. (That makes three part-time jobs!)
Stopped in his tracks once again, Kenneth injured his knee on the job. He needed medical help and was ordered to stop all three jobs for a period of four weeks. His Worker’s Compensation was “only enough to cover food…or rent…or the phone bill…,” but not everything. What was he to do?
What Kenneth did was to share his situation with Maxwell Terrace management, who helped him facilitate a plan so his rent was paid. “They allowed me the chance to get back on my feet and offered resources [in the community] to get help.” His appreciation extends to our onsite partners at the Goodwill Job Connection Center for helping “to get the paperwork where it needed to go” for crisis assistance. “It works beautifully and is a good resource to have.”
On January 9, 2019, Kenneth was released from the doctor. “I called all my jobs the same day and asked, ‘What do you need me to do, so I can get back to work?’” Needless to say, he’s back at all three jobs!
No matter his daily saga, Kenneth is positive. “I’m just working to right my wrongs. What you’ve been through doesn’t make you what you are now. If you want [to be] better, there’s work you can do to make you better.”
As to his goals, he wants “…to increase my income, to have a home one day, to start a business. I want to enjoy it, or it’s worthless!” And as he thinks on the question, he adds, “To be a tour manager with an artist. To travel state to state, country to county. I’m trying to figure out how to make it happen.”
For today, Kenneth is thankful to live in an apartment he can afford, among people in his corner. “Pathlight HOME’s Maxwell Terrace is here to help people who want to help themselves. You should take advantage…you should give back and use your knowledge to help others. It’s a place to get back on your feet and move on, for someone else to get this assistance.” He feels safe and loves the central location, “Just 10 minutes from downtown.”
“It’s just great what you do,” says Kenneth of Pathlight HOME’s supporters. We think this hardworking, enthusiastic and gentle man is great too!