Volunteers of America Hold Annual Breakfast; Celebrate Success Stories

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SACRAMENTO -- "You move people from crisis to stability by helping people reach their potential."

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg addressed hundreds of people at the 13th annual Shelter from the Storm Breakfast on Thursday. It's a celebration of the group Volunteers of America for successfully transitioning homeless individuals to working citizens.

"I don't say we can cure the problem. But we can make it much better. By outreach, case management, supportive services for people with mental health and substance abuse and permanent housing," Steinberg said.

"Anything is possible. Giving them the resources and training that they need to change their life, and they're doing it. And it's remarkable," said Christie Holderegger, vice president of development with Volunteers of America.

One man shared his remarkable journey.

"I started being a foster kid at the age of 4," said 24-year-old Jeremiah Langston, who lived in 15 homes before his 18th birthday.

"There's a sense of hopelessness, as you become cautious that any day, you'll find a social worker at your door," he said.

Despite his struggles, his sheer determination to change landed him as a student at UC Davis. But money was tight. He eventually became homeless.

"I was just sleeping at the Arboretum, and I hid my luggage in a bush somewhere," said Langston.

Out of desperation, he reached out to Volunteers of America -- which provided him with housing, life skills, and confidence that he could make it.

"They were able to give me those things, and accommodate for the things I didn't have, and train me in building those skills for me to be even more successful than I already was," Langston said.

Skills that led to his graduation in May 2016 and then a career. He's now a high school geography teacher in Kentucky through the National Teach for America program.

Langston acknowledges that he has a very unique set of circumstances. Now he uses that to inspire other kids who may be in similar shoes.

"Seeing those students say that 'I can't.' That's not even in my vocabulary, so I'm just thankful to be at that school to be that interim that tells them, 'Wait a minute. Don't think like that. Because you're more than exceptional and you can definitely do anything you put your mind to,'" Langston said.

A life motto he says he learned from Volunteers of America.

Langston says after his two-year commitment with Teach for America, he hopes to go to law school or become an entrepreneur.

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