A huge smile draws across Ryan Nevins' face when he reflects on his time at Fountain House. “I love it here. When I walk through the doors of Fountain House I feel I am supported, accepted and loved. It is family to me and one of the major factors for the progress I have made in my life.”
Ryan first learned about Fountain House through St Luke's Roosevelt and became a member in April 2010. “When I first joined I was not happy, I used to sit in the corner with a sullen face. Now when I’m here I feel at home.”
From age 15, Ryan battled depression, alcoholism and addiction that stemmed from challenges addressing his sexuality. “I learned somewhere that alcohol would make you happy but it only compounded my problems along with shame and self-hatred because of my sexual orientation." In the following years, as he pursued his childhood dream of playing professional baseball, he was also balancing his multiple diagnoses including bipolar, depression, OCD, ADHD and Dyslexia. The stress of managing multiple diagnoses and addiction also impacted his belief system. “I deferred my dream. I felt my calling was as a professional baseball player but when it didn't work out on top of everything else, I lost my faith.”
Eventually Ryan found his stride, not only managing his addiction and diagnosis, but embracing his sexuality, rediscovering his faith and focus, and even publishing a children’s book. “I was walking in a building downtown and found a fortune cookie wrapper in a janitors dust pile and it said ‘Keep true to the dreams of your youth’, then shortly after I published my book Shine Kids I received an email saying they had opened the age limit to the Daily News Golden Gloves to 40 which was one of my childhood dreams to compete in!”
Ryan’s book Shine Kids, You’re Talented, Gifted and Blessed Go Follow Your Dreams!, published in late 2016, was originally a graffiti piece created behind his grammar school. "At the time I was angry at the people who had a negative effect on my self-esteem and this is how I expressed it.” Shortly after he was inspired to write the poem and since then he has carried the Shine Kids message to anyone that was following a dream and needed a little encouragement.
Never one to sit still, Ryan is already working on a follow up book to Shine Kids, a hip-hop album, training for next year’s Golden Gloves Tournament, and turning Shine Kids into a foundation to support kids to follow their dreams. Reflecting on why he feels so drawn to working with young people, Ryan has a simple response, “This is my work, soul mission and purpose!”
Ryan’s book and foundation information can be found at shinekidsfoundation.com.