When Brandan walked in to Urban Peak’s Shelter late one night, the staff didn’t believe that he was young enough to stay here. Long hair, a big bushy beard and standing at 6’4”, this young man looked more like the old soul that he is. Brandan’s kind heart and wisdom shows through the second that you meet him. He and his mother have been through a lot over the years, keeping each other first all the way. When they were given the opportunity to move from Lakewood to Burlington in December of Brandan’s senior year, he kindly declined and made the hard decision to stay at the Urban Peak Shelter to finish out his senior year at the school he had grown to love. He was actively involved in the Unified Basketball team and was a star in the Unified theater program, this year stealing the show as Grandpa Joe in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Brandan has more tenacity and drive than most. He found his way around town, graduated on time, and even lettered for Basketball. All while living 150 miles away from his main source of support and his biggest cheerleader – his mom. I had the honor of being Brandan’s case manager for the 8 months that he stayed at the Urban Peak Shelter. The first few months saw him spending a good majority of his time alone, preferring to play on the computer or read silently. However, it wasn’t long before he found his way into conversation at the dinner table and joined others in discussion about the latest video games or anime.
I was notified that Brandan was at the top of the housing wait-list in April and was so excited to tell Brandan that he would possibly have his very own apartment after graduation. In true Brandan fashion, he took the exciting news in stride, smiling from ear to ear and then went back to his music he was listening to. Over the next months we had meetings with the housing team, weekly case management meetings and started to get things nailed down for his big move. All the while, quietly excited.
The last few weeks that Brandan was with us at the Shelter were wild ones. He was kind enough to invite me to join him and his mother at his theater performance, multiple award ceremonies and even his high school graduation. At these events, I was in awe of the staff and other student’s families that went out of their way to give their love and encouragement to Brandan. I was regaled with stories of his kindness, sense of humor and talent on the court and stage.
Things haven’t always been easy for this now cleanly shaved young man. Yet, Brandan goes out of his way to make those around him feel like family, to show his appreciation for all. As the saying goes, “To know Brandan, is to adore Brandan.”
I have no doubt that this old soul will make a great impact on those around him year after year. Congrats Brandan!!
Shelter Case Manager