INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A group of Indianapolis students celebrated a big accomplishment this month when they graduated from high school.
But walking across the stage means so much more than receiving that diploma.
24-Hour News 8 got a chance to meet with Torrez Esco.
He is one of 37 students who graduated from high school as part of a program with Outreach Indiana.
The goal is to pair outreach workers with students across the city to help them overcome their struggles and hardships. Many of these students are homeless.
“The day of graduation when they called my name, my heart was pounding faster and faster, so I was just smiling,” he said.
It was a week ago when 19-year-old Torrez Esco walked across the big stage at Arsenal Tech High School for graduation. He said it’s a day he will never forget.
“When I got my diploma, it was like a big relief to me, like a lot of weight off my shoulders,” he said. “I was so worried about graduating because I didn’t know if I was going to graduate.”
But the journey to his diploma wasn’t an easy one. Esco said his mom was a single mother working to support eight kids when he was younger.
“Sometimes we end up having to stay in a van,” he remembered. “We didn’t have a house to go to, but she’s always made a way for us to get a roof over our heads.”
Esco said his junior year of high school, his mom and siblings moved to Georgia. He moved with them but decided to come back to Indianapolis
“I didn’t really have nowhere to go, you know I thought I did,” he said. “But I didn’t, so I was moving to house to house, home to home.”
Esco said he was coded as homeless and was introduced to Outreach Indiana.
“Every time I come here, it kind of feels like home, so I just call it home,” he said.
Outreach Indiana is a faith-based nonprofit organization helping homeless youth from 14 to 24 with every day needs from clothes to a place to stay to planning for the future.
“They help me with like school, tutoring, resumes, internships. Basically if I need somebody to talk to, if I have a problem, I could call them anytime,” he said. “Just basically with anything, Outreach has helped me a lot.”
He credits his family, friends, girlfriend and mentors through the program for motivating him and for not giving up on him even when he felt like quitting.
“You need to keep going no matter what struggles you have,” he said. “It won’t last you will succeed one day.”
Outreach Indiana is also planning a graduation ceremony for their students Saturday morning. Graduation is being held at Post Road Christian Church from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Each graduate will also receive a free laptop and a box filled with dozens of letters and cards from people in the community.
Click here to learn more about Outreach Indiana.