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© 2012 Donald Whitehead. All rights reserved.
Most Unlikely to Succeed
Written by Donald H. Whitehead Jr. 
(An exert) Most Unlikely to Succeed
My five siblings and I lived in a three family home that we occupied  with other relatives. We all shared one bedroom and my parents slept in  the living room. My mother was a lunchroom worker at our elementary  school. She later became a teacher's aide and then a licensed social  worker. She insisted that education was the top priority. This early  focus on education was a lifeboat in the sea of desperation that my life  would later become. My father, usually a very happy person, worked hard  to care for us. For most of my early childhood he worked two jobs. One  evening my father crashed his car into a tree. From the time of my  father's accident things were never the same. The accident disfigured  his face, leaving a visible scar. He became a tyrant. Our house became a  war zone. My grandfather, who was unwilling to ignore my father's  abuse, shot him. Even before the trauma and the abuse I remember feeling  different. I remember feeling lonely. At home I created imaginary  friends and my play-acting was so vivid that my poor mother had me  tested for sanity. When I left elementary school I went to Walnut Hills High School,  one of the top public schools in the nation. I didn't stand out because  everyone was smart. I also didn't fit in socially. Because of my  father's progressive addiction and unwillingness to maintain employment  on a regular basis we were forced to live in poverty. Most students at  school were from affluent families and I always felt that I wasn't as  good as everyone else. The growing dysfunction in my household began to  have a negative impact and I began to experiment with drugs. I was asked  to leave Walnut Hills High and for the first time I experienced  academic problems. My academic problems were not related to my ability  to do the work, but rather they stemmed from my newly acquired practice  of skipping classes. I take full responsibility for my actions, but I  place some blame on the teacher's strike of 1977 that allowed me to  perfect the art of skipping class on a regular basis.  In the next three years I attended three different schools. By this  time my addiction had progressed to the level of blackouts. I lived a  "Jekyll and Hyde" existence. By day I was the class vice president, the  prom king, most likely to succeed, a football player - I was even  selected to be "councilman for a day" in Cincinnati. After school hours,  I was an addict who had already tried almost every drug that didn't  require needles. I knew that this was not how I wanted to live - the  only problem was I just couldn't stop. 
Author, Donald H. Whitehead Jr.
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National Groups

The National Coalition for the Homeleless www.natinalhomeless.org

The National Low-income Housing Coalition

Faces and Voices of Recovery

Statewide Groups

The Coalition on Housing and Homelessness in Ohio

Local Groups

The Drop Inn Center
Over the Rhine 

Community Housing
The Greater Cincinnati Coalition to the Homeless


St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore

Baltimore Healthcare for the Homeless

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