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"You should see me when I wear a suit!" Jalil's RFL Homecoming

If someone asked me 5 years ago where I thought I’d be today, I would have never thought I’d be here…

Ready for Life helped me the minute I arrived years ago. I was homeless and they got me a place to stay, got me a job, and food to eat. Every time I was hungry, I knew I could count on Ready for Life, and they taught me a lot of things.

They tried to teach me to get my GED- I was stubborn and didn’t listen for a while but I have it now.

They taught me about how to pay my bills. I didn’t know anything about that but Jeff, a mentor who was like a father to me taught me that it wasn’t magic – it was just taking things one step at a time. Jeff also taught me to keep going even when you go through a bad patch in life. Life is always going to get better if you keep your head up and press on. That has been true.

RFL taught me about leadership, working at the (Suncoast Kingfish Classic) Fishing Tournament…. I wasn’t a leader when I started there, I didn’t know anything about helping at events, talking on the microphone, talking to people, and working hard toward such a big goal. The second year, Mr. Ryan (tournament director) remembered me, and I got an even bigger role, and the third year I got even more responsibility. I learned patience, with myself and others, AND I learned how to fish, and I LOVE to fish! It is relaxing and stress relief for me.

I dibbed and dabbed in life over the years, but after Nova, my daughter came, I became a work-a-holic. I started to take life seriously. I couldn’t mess around anymore.

My life is like a 360 now.

I own my own masonry company and am making a good living. I feel like I’m a grown man. And when I come here, I do feel like youth because this place, Ready for Life is home to me. I came so far from that little kid that didn’t know anything to who I am now. I’m saving for owning my house and raise my family.

One of my clients recently looked me up on the internet and found the time I was on TV for RFL. This guy asked me if I was homeless at one time in life and at first, I was embarrassed, but I said yes, and Ready for Life helped me. The client was impressed with all that I’d accomplished in that moment, I realized too that I had broken out of the cycle. I made the climb and will keep going for my own family’s sake now too.

I took my girlfriend Nae on a trip to Vegas and our layover was in Tampa. I told her I would introduce her to the people who basically raised me, Mama Michelle and Mama Kathy and everyone at Ready for Life.

They didn’t just teach me about mattering… .you all showed me that I mattered, and you are family to me.


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If you want to look back at Jalil at just 18, click here to see the article in the news Volunteers repair Pinellas group home for youth in time for Thanksgiving (

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