Javon pictured with Angels’ Arms Founder Bess Wilfong and his foster mom Phyllis Hackman.
This is a story 10 years in the making. The “once upon a time” began on October 25, 2005, when foster parents Phyllis and Eldon Hackman moved into Angels’ Arms’ second home in Ballwin. The foster parents to two boys now had more space, and they opened the home and their hearts to more kids. Javon was only 13 when he joined the Hackman family. He had been in foster care for four years and was living at the Annie Malone Children’s Home. A good kid, Javon was at a critical age, and was starting to go down the wrong path. He needed a more stable, loving environment, and the Hackmans provided just that.
The first few years were rough, to say the least. The teen years can be a struggle for any family, and Javon’s relationship with the Hackmans was no exception. He tested his foster parents daily, especially Phyllis. But no matter how much trouble he got in to, Phyllis and Eldon didn’t give up on him. Javon will be the first to admit that he was grounded for much of his high school career. His foster parents had strict rules in place and Javon continued to break them. This went on for a while but soon, Javon began to understand: the rules were there to protect him and keep him from heading down the wrong path once again. Ultimately, he began to trust them and realized that they had his best interest at heart.
Javon pictured with some of his biggest fans, Bob Ruebsam, Tess McMahon and Tom Hartnagel.
Javon graduated high school with a 3.4 GPA and received an Athletic and Educational scholarship at Benedictine College. After two years at the private school, he wanted a change and transferred to Southeast Missouri State. SEMO gave Javon a place to be himself. He joined a fraternity, made new friends and held a part time job. In the midst of his busy college life, Javon kept in close touch with his foster parents, who were now his family. Visits on weekends, summer breaks and holidays strengthened the close ties they developed.
Javon will never forget the sound of applause that filled the air on May 16, 2015. His 10-year journey had come to this: walking across the stage at the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau, receiving his college diploma, and listening to the cheers of his foster family and his Angels’ Arms family.
While living with the Hackmans, Javon’s support system grew. He was surrounded by individuals who loved and encouraged him to be his best self. People who helped cover his tuition costs, sent him care packages, helped him network and even land an internship at a Fortune 500 Company. This community of supporters became an extended family for Javon. With their encouragement and assurance, Javon learned that all things are possible, and that opportunities for success are endless.
After graduation, Javon will return to the place he calls home, living with the Hackman family as he begins his career with World Wide Technology. In addition to working full time, he is determined to give back and passionate about helping other foster kids facing similar circumstances. He wants them to know that life is full of opportunities waiting to be seized and that nothing’s impossible.
Ten years ago, all the cards were stacked against him. But Javon truly beat the odds. Nationally, only 50% of foster children graduate from high school and less than 3% graduate from college. Javon’s future was in his hands all along, but the guidance he received from his loving foster family and the many supporters who believed he was capable of great things helped Javon become the amazing young man he is today.
The next 10 years – we can’t wait to see them unfold for Javon.