PUTNAM COUNTY – Life growing up for former Putnam County School System students Charlie Lack and Jordy Adcock was anything but easy. But through all of life’s challenges, they find themselves today grateful and giving back to a student walking a similar path as they did.
Since they were five, Lack and Adcock have been friends after first meeting in Kindergarten. Today, they are in business together and both are running small businesses. Lack runs Blast Away Pressure Washing and Adcock owns Next Level Construction focusing on gutters and siding. Lack began working for Adcock’s company before launching into his power-washing company last year, but still works with him when he can. The two Upperman High School graduates could have never imagined they would be where they are today without Jesus, the support of their school and the guidance of Shelia Barker, Social Emotional Wellness Coordinator for the PCSS. Lack also remembers the care offered to him by the late Joy Carter, who was the Nurse Clinical director for PCSS at the time.
“I played sports all the way up until high school,” said Lack. “My dad wasn’t involved in my life and mom struggled with mental health, which left me to take care of the house and myself. I quit sports and went to work at Dairy Queen to make money to live, have food, etc. I did that till I graduated.
“I have seen a lot of hardships even after high school,” Lack continued. “I had no guidance and no one to answer to. It took me down a bad path for a few years, as well as Adcock, until I finally woke up and got my act together. Shelia helped me through counseling and talking about my problems. It took a while to open up, but eventually, I did.
“Joy had known me through sports, and she finally found out or picked up on the fact I never had a ride home to and from practice,” Lack reflected. “She took me home a couple of times. But one thing I will always remember is she took me shopping and bought me $500 worth of clothes because she saw I had the same clothes on most days. They went beyond their job, and they helped prepare me for the future. I knew the way I grew up wasn’t normal just by looking at others around me, but Joy and Shelia helped me overcome that and encouraged me. They helped me tremendously.”
Adcock remembers being apathetic about school and doing what he wanted. He also remembers the care he received from Shelia and how she intervened to help him take steps to overcome his deep-rooted struggles.
“I was homeless at around 15 or 16 years old and didn’t care or like school. I was bouncing house-to-house and landing on couches at my buddies,” said Adcock. “It was around the time my mom passed that Shelia entered into the picture. I remember feeling care from her and support through my challenges. I was extremely hard to get stuff out of when we talked, but she stuck with me.”
Both graduates were given the gift of encouragement and support. Earlier in December, Lack ran into Shelia and spoke about his plans to provide Christmas gifts to a child in the school system.
“When I was in school, I remembered the school supporting me and others around Christmas. I shared with Shelia that I was finally in a position where I can give back and that I had begun saving money to provide gifts to another kid that was walking in the same situation that I was in school,” said Lack.
Barker received the items from Lack and delivered the gifts to the student.
“It is amazing to see these two students’ stories come full-circle,” said Barker. “Once the receiver of gifts is now the giver of gifts. They both have overcome so much, and I am proud of them. Their former teachers and school staff are proud of them. They should be proud of themselves. I am blessed to be a small part of their story and believe their stories will inspire students who have walked a similar path to know they can overcome their obstacles too.”
Lack and Adcock share advice and encouragement to students who might be walking through a challenging home life, letting them know that it starts with opening up, talking about it and surrounding yourself with the right people.
“I know it’s hard to open up to anyone when you have been hurt by the people who are supposed to love you the most. It will be hard. But if someone is willing to help you, let them. Trust them,” said Lack. “It took me a while, but I am glad I did because I have found a friend in Shelia even now. Make sure to surround yourself with the right people. When you are in that situation, you feel held back or chained down, but you don’t have to stay in that. Meet good people and expand your train of thought.”
Adcock adds, “Don’t give up on yourself or Jesus. Be strong but let down your pride and allow people to help you. You will get through it and see everything play out on the other side. I had several construction jobs and a couple I was fired from. I worked for one guy, and it was there I realized I wanted to do this on my own. By the grace of God, I am running my own business, and I am blessed.”
The Putnam County School System continues to educate and train school staff through its team of counselors, psychologists, social workers, and the social-emotional learning coordinator to learn how to help, support and guide students, just like Lack and Adcock.