Healing families. Strengthening communities.

Success Stories

Bryan’s Story

Bryan was just 7 years old and already angry. At school, he was using profanity, getting into fights and failing most of his subjects.

With the help of programs offered by Hollygrove and Uplift Family Services Bryan’s young life has changed for the better. In a little more than a year he has gone from angry and aggressive to respectful and pleasant. Hollygrove is part of Uplift Family Services, California’s largest children’s services agency.

Bryan was just 7 years old and already angry. At school, he was using profanity, getting into fights and failing most of his subjects. At home, he was defiant, impulsive, and refused to do his homework or chores. He was becoming aggressive toward his siblings and others in the home and had to be constantly supervised.

There were reasons for the behavior. He was a young boy in a new country, having recently immigrated to the U.S. He didn’t know the language, didn’t have any friends, and was having a hard time accepting his mother’s new partner. So many major adjustments started taking a toll on him. The challenges he had in expressing himself led to even greater frustration and Bryan soon started acting out.

With his increasing angry outbursts, his mother had a growing sense of helplessness and felt like her son neither cared for nor respected her. He was in danger of having to repeat the school year. And, when he wasn’t fighting, he just kept to himself and wasn’t making connections with those around him.

Through Bryan’s school, his mother found out about Hollygrove, a part of Uplift Family Services, and their Outpatient Program. She worked with his teachers to refer him into the program.

Initially, Bryan was very resistant to participating in groups and therapy. He was defiant toward staff; he would curse, yell, and scream, and was verbally aggressive with his peers. The team began addressing his behaviors by identifying his strengths, such as his natural intelligence and athletic abilities, and teaching him how to use those strengths as coping skills to address his anger.

Bryan slowly began to participate in group counseling and did intensive work with his therapist and group rehab specialist. The team helped Bryan work together with his mother to improve his home life, and they encouraged his passion for soccer as a physical outlet. Once he saw that the staff and his family truly cared about him and believed he could change, Bryan opened up about why he was so angry and started taking responsibility for his actions. Soon after, his verbal and physical aggression toward peers, siblings and adults diminished. His grades dramatically improved to A’s and B’s, and he was praised by his teachers for making such impressive progress in a short amount of time.

After 15 months, Bryan successfully graduated from the program. He and his family were able to participate in the program in large part because of donor contributions. Since the family didn’t have reliable transportation, Hollygrove provided bus passes for Bryan and his mother so that they could get to the agency for therapy sessions and community activities. As a result, Bryan is involved in soccer, basketball and camp. His teachers have commented that he appears to be “a totally different kid” and is always “respectful and pleasant...such a sweet kid.” More importantly, Bryan now has the skills and confidence to be successful and a positive role model for his peers thanks to the help he received from the team at Hollygrove and donors who care.

Confidentiality of Uplift Family Services children and families has been preserved through the use of models. Some stories may be composites of multiple cases.