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Hello! My name is George Brooks. I was born in 1990 at St. Mary’s Hospital in St. Louis, MO. I grew up in my grandmas house in Soulard while my mom was in college until she graduated when I was around seven years old. We were poor and my mom (after graduating) found a good paying job offer in a nice upperclass city called Tampa Bay. In Florida! We moved to a house on an island. Davis Island. I would play with legos, ride my bike to the beach. Ya know. Kid stuff. I started to know I was different in the 2nd grade. I would act out in class, be rude in a clever way, bother the girls who weren’t interested. That kind of thing. Then I was transferred to a private school. In the third grade I was so rude to my teacher trying to be the class clown that it overwhelmed her and I had to be sent to the principals office for a meeting involving my mom. It didn’t go well. In the fourth grade I was back in public school in Mrs. Anderson’s class. I often got sent out of class until they eventually paired me with the special needs teacher. I worked on my school work with her and a girl named Julie who had downsyndrome. I graduated out or elementary school just barely. I was good at math though and my mom was trying to nurture me as always. She enrolled me into a magnet school for science and math. “Stewart”, it was called. I did good In class, but still felt different. I started drawing on my arms and flirting with the teachers. I didn’t finish middle school before I picked up smoking. I was 12. I felt like I must just be a bad kid, and used smoking as a way of escape from the life I felt I just didn’t fit into. By the time I got to high school I was smoking weed. I thought it was so cool to be bad because I was good at it. My mom tried to help and send me to counselors, and would talk my way out of getting help. Making it seem like it was my mom and sister who had the problems. My mom fell in love with a guy named Bob Callmieyer who she knew from back in St. Louis. My mom (in an attempt to change my scenery) sent me to live with him back in St. Louis. I got into a lot of trouble. Started drinking a lot. Grew my hair out and partied. It hurt Mr. Callmieyer. They introduced me to a shrink and thought I might have ADD (attention deficit disorder) the meds didn’t help. With the weed and alcohol they did more damage than help. Finally I was acting out so much in class and word got out that I was a partier so they drug tested me and I got kicked out. The neighborhood was not so good so the public school for the area my (my mom decided) was too dangerous. [My mom and Mr. Callmeiyers relationship fizzled out. I think it was kind of my fault.] so I moved back to Florida…
I dropped out of high school. I was 18 and my mom asked me if I wanted to go on vacation to St. Louis; maybe see some of my old friends. I said yes. I was partying so hard and avoiding my mom so much while we were there that my mom was scared to take me back to Florida with her. I was 18 so legally she didn’t have to. We cried. I lived from house to house and got involved with a rougher croud with rougher drugs. After a year of doing that I was kind of burnt out. I got saved up enough money to move back to Florida.
I moved in with my friend Matt Brooks (no relation), and the next day he was going to Community College for orientation. I came along. {I forgot to tell you I’d gotten took my GED and got my Diploma when I dropped out.} I enrolled in college and found out about student housing from a friend I grew up with (Pookie) and there was an opening so I signed up and got the place. The only thing that was missing was the money. I called my mom and told her all that I had done. She was so proud of me that she agreed to pay my rent as long as I stayed in school. She took me out shopping for clothes, school supplies, apartment supplies, the works. I am so lucky to have her in my life. She always supported me. And still does.
I got into drugs bad in college. I tried to express how different I felt from other people by getting high, rapping, sagging my pants, blowing smoke rings. I wanted people to see I’M different. But I’m a negative way like I had something no one else had. I became what a lot of people might call “ate up” or “burnt out”…
While I was in college my mom moved back to St. Louis. I told her how I’d failed and begged her to let me come up. She agreed.
I started going to college in St. Louis. I tried but couldn’t get my head wrapped around my studies. I started partying with a guy named Karlos. He introduced me to a girl named Lauren. We started partying and ended up dating. Two years later we had a daughter named Beverly. This made me want to sober up. So I did. Then, being an undiagnosed schizophrenic, I became paranoid. I lost my apartment and my job and moved into Lauren’s (who lived with her parents at the time). I wouldn’t leave Beverly’s side… not even to work to support her. After 4 years of that I was crazy. I’d had enough. I reached a breaking point and walked 20 miles to my mom and her husband Nick (she'd gotten married) and begged me to let me stay. That night I snuck into the basement and slept on the floor. In the morning they found me and decided I needed help. They took me to Barnes Jewish Hospital. They said, "we need to run some tests to evaluate him". I lived there for no less than two months. They diagnosed me with schizophrenia. What a relief. I had a mental disorder. It explained all of my behavior. Now being released my parents agreed to let me stay with them since I was being treated and all. My daughter was living there now, so I got to see her regularly. But something was missing. They told me about the Independence Center when I was in treatment, but being paranoid and all I’d never thought I’d go…
I finally went! I felt the warm feeling that everybody knew me. I started going every day. People would say “Hey bro” and “How’s it going, George", and last, but not least a “GB!” from Joe Shafer (one of the helping hands at the IC).
They got me a job at “The Cheese Factory” (not to be confused with The Cheesecake Factory) where they package cheese. After the 6 month work period happened I went solely to the IC again. A year later Covid-19 happened. I couldn’t go because my parents were high risk. I went to the IC Healthgroup behind the building once every 3 weeks to get my injection for my schizophrenia. I would pop my head in there (once my parents were vaccinated) to say Hello!, and see how everyone is doing.
One day my parents told me about a couple we know who need work to be done around some apartments they own close to the IC. So I started working there. Yard work, painting the works! That got overbearing and I needed a change of pace.
That’s when I heard from my mom about a volunteer program for the disabled at Mercy Hospital. I started volunteering there to get out of the house and eventually got a job working for a company (called MVP) who was employeed by Mercy.
Now that’s my weekly routine. I go to work/volunteer at Mercy, do handy work for the couple, and pop my head into the Independence Center to see how everyone’s doing (and how I am doing).
One day I was going in for my shot, and the lady at the front desk (LINDA I love that name) told me they had nominated me to be the next dancer for Dancing With the St. Louis Stars. I was honored, but thought nothing of it. The next day Joe Shafer calls me! I’ve been picked! I’m ecstatic!
So here I am and am ready to express my love for the IC and all they have done for me through dance. Here I am :)

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