SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) - Imagine being homeless at 19 years old. That became a reality for Tristan Simmons.
Simmons says he spent two weeks living on the streets.
"It was harder than I ever imagined," Simmons said.
Then, he was approached by an organization that helps people reach their full potential.
Bethesda Lutheran Communities is an organization that provides homes and services for people with developmental disabilities.
Simmons has autism and struggles with depression and anxiety. With no education, no job and not even a roof over his head, Willie Taft, a Direct Support Leader, says Bethesda turned his life around.
"He was able to finish his senior year," Taft said. "He was the student of the month and also student of the year at Springfield High School."
Taft spends almost 50 hours a week with Simmons. Not only is he Tristan's mentor, but he is family.
"First thing with Tristan was, to learn how to trust," Taft said. "I believe he trusted me, and knew I was here to help."
"I think of him as a dad because I've never known my own dad," Simmons said. "It's fun to look up to him."
Anyone who knows someone in need of Bethesda Lutheran Communities help can call their office at (217)787-1559.