Sometimes a house can take time to feel like a home, but once it feels like home, you know you’ll always be welcome. Jacob Goranson knows this feeling well.
While the children’s home and the people who reside there still feel like “home” to Jacob, a 2014 graduate, the beginning of his journey started with nervousness and uncertainty.
“Initially, I wasn’t really excited to go [to the children’s home], because other places like that seemed so strict,” Jacob said.
Jacob (pictured above, right) came to the children’s home with his brother, Jesse (pictured above, left), and they spent their first few days taking walks with each other around campus and spending time in their room. They kept to themselves and tried to adjust the best they knew how.
They were both in high school, so it took them longer to get used to their new environment and become comfortable around adults who weren’t their parents.
Eventually, some of the other kids welcomed them into their group and showed them how supportive and friendly the house parents were, and Jacob started to put down his guard.
“It was a cool match with the other kids, and we eventually found out that there are no bad house parents,” he said. “Everyone was so nice.”
Shortly after, it was time to start another year of high school. Jacob was nervous at first to start school in a new town, with new friends and a new home to go back to at the end of the day. However, he found solace and support that first day of school and every day after.
“The first day actually ended up being really great,” Jacob explained. “All my classes were great, and coming home with a place to study and do school work was amazing.”
Jacob praised the fact that he had a dedicated time and space to finish his homework every day at the resource center, and said it was just one aspect of the support system that helped him get ahead.
“There was a good structure to [the children’s home], but there was also a lot of freedom,” he said.
The support system at the children’s home followed Jacob into his college career, where he found new challenges.
“It took me longer to get used to college than it did for me to get used to Masonic,” he said. Jacob lived on campus at Penn State Harrisburg and found difficulty transitioning to college life.
“But the children’s home helped me learn how to be independent,” he said.
Jacob stayed in contact with children’s home staff through college and would often come back to visit, as his school was only 20 minutes away.
“Not to be corny, but they’re like family,” he says.
Jacob lived at the children’s home for just over two years and said that “it was easy living there, so I guess it went by quick in a way.”
Jacob graduated in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in theater from Penn State Harrisburg.
After graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to live with his father. He worked in Hollywood for a bit, auditioning and working as a background extra. He also tried his hand at acting in student films and liked what he was doing overall, but he knew that industry was never his final goal.
With his degree in psychology, Jacob hopes to go into police work in the Los Angeles area. His job hunt started months ago, but has been put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic. He’s been told by some of the departments that he’ll hear back soon.
Regardless of his path forward, or where he decides to live, Jacob always knows that he has a family back “home.” He still keeps in touch with some of the young men he grew up with and also some of the house parents who helped him succeed against all odds.
“Living there was the best thing that has ever happened to me,” he said. “It was just an incredible experience.”