Jesse-Ray Lewis is the product of a drug-filled childhood, an absent mother, a father who was indifferent at best, and a school system that failed to properly educate him. Having entered foster care at age 12 and then becoming “aged out” of the system in 2016, he was ill equipped to deal with everyday life.
At 19, he walked away from a sordid milieu of gangs and violence and—after a stint of living in an abandoned house and sleeping under a tree—sought food and shelter from strangers in a small Appalachian town. To maintain his sanity while trying to establish a stable footing, he began writing his experience of his life in poetry. He is currently doing volunteer work and entering community college.
Award-winning journalist Andrea Brunais offers a glimpse of the story of Jesse-Ray Lewis and the Appalachian town that tried to help him turn his life around.