Homeless student graduates high school early, joins U.S. Army

Henry County School officials tell us almost 1100 students are homeless district wide. That number is up by 500 kids from just five years ago.

The Federal government defines homelessness of a student as doubled up house holds living under one roof, families living in hotels, families living in substandard housing, families living in shelters, and unaccompanied youth. That's the story of Melissa Wint.

"You need to suck it up and get on with it," Melissa Wint said. "Do what you can to get where you need to be"

Wint is now a homeless high school graduate. She was kicked out of her adoptive mother's home over a year ago. She tells us she went to live with her brother. Then she left. Then she lived with a friend. She left again. Now she lives with another friend and it's finally a good situation.

This bumpy path did not derail Wint from achieving her goals.

"It was one set back after another after another," said Sallie Livingston the Hampton High School social worker. "And there were times where I felt like giving up, and Melissa never did."

Henry County schools not only worked with Wint to get her across that graduation stage, they helped her graduate early. And they helped her get into the United States Army, but it wasn't easy.

"There were citizenship issues," Melissa said. "Like at times I was doubting I was a citizen because of how much loops and hurdles it took to get to where we are right now."

Wint was born in Jamaica then adopted by an American relative. This does make her an American, but to get into the Army you have to prove your citizenship thoroughly and Wint does not have much a paper trail. Her social worker Livingston spent a lot of time making sure Wint could report for duty.

Livingston said, "It took a lot more phone calls and finally a waiver was issued but this was probably months in the making."

But the help didn't stop there. Livingston said "Everyone that graduates high school should have a party and as her chosen family or her adoptive family, we're going to be throwing the party for her."

They threw a huge party. Wint said they told her just to show up and when she did she said, "all of these people helped me? like are you serious? I was like wow!"

On Monday, Wint joins the Army. She plans to go to college while serving and once she gets her degree she wants to be a software engineer for Google.

What was her driving force? A focused goal. Wint told us, "I WANT TO GRADUATE! I wanted to graduate. And my whole thing was, I'm gonna graduate and I'm gonna be somebody great. if theres anything I've learned from this its where I don't want to be. There are people out there who are going through much worse than you. and that's what I went off of."

The county school officials tell us they have a lack of affordable housing in Henry County. When a family gets evicted there are very few options for them to relocated to something stable. Family Promise is working to open the county's first homeless shelter by the end of the year. They need more money and more support to make this goal a reality. Their Go Fund Me Site: https://www.gofundme.com/familypromisehenrycounty