Over 37 years ago, a middle school counselor found out that a young boy, only about 12 years old, was living in the Goodwill box located on the school grounds. He said he had nowhere to go, and was getting in trouble for staying out on the streets. Because school was the one place where he felt the safest, he made his home in the perceived security of the box. At the time, the only alternative that homeless youth had to living on the street was incarceration with adult criminals.
That young boy, James Carlson, inspired the school counselor to gather a group of friends from the community, and build a home for children like him. A home that didn’t require young children who were homeless, runaways, or had been abused to be locked up like a criminal.
From the hard work of this dedicated group of individuals, Grayson County Juvenile Alternatives was formed in 1979, with the first shelter for homeless youth located on Cherry Street in downtown Sherman.
James was grateful for the work done on his behalf and for other children who found themselves in his situation. Several years later, he painted the picture above of some of the items that were in the Goodwill box with him while called it home. This pictures continues to hang in our facility.
James later died in a car accident while still only a young adult, and when the paramedics opened his wallet, the only thing they found was a small scrap of paper with the phone number of the school counselor who had worked so hard on his behalf. His spirit lives on in the many youth who find a safe home here with us.