There is an old saying that goes: “What doesn’t kill you, will only make you stronger…” So just call me Hercules. In my 19 years of life’s experiences, I have endured more obstacles than the average person has in an entire lifetime.

My life first took a drastic change at the age of 9, when I entered the foster care system. I remember my initial reaction as being one of relief and nervousness. I was relieved because foster care was an opportunity for me to escape a childhood where I didn’t know what drama to expect from day to day. I was a product of two unwed parents who suffered from addiction issues. Subsequently, me and my sisters often took care of ourselves and only got to “play” and be “normal kids” when my mother was in the mood. When my mother was in a bad mood for one reason or another, it was not uncommon for me and my siblings to get unnecessary whooping and punishments. At one point, my older sister called Children Services herself. However, the first few phone calls were ignored. Then one day a knock came at the door. It was Children Services telling me and my younger sister that we were being removed from my mother’s care. I swear I heard a loud pitched noise that is usually followed by the announcement that …“THIS A TEST, THIS IS ONLY A TEST, OF THE EMERGENCY BROADCAST SYSTEM.” Shortly after, reality set in and I realized that this was real.

During my placement in foster care, I met an amazing lady by the name of Ms. Johnson. She took me and my sister in and showed us what a family is really about. Despite being in a wonderful environment, I found myself continuously being pulled to the streets, hanging around “the wrong crowd”, and smokin’ weed…among other things. I eventually found myself in trouble with the law and sitting in the lobby of a probation office. I thought probation was going to be “a living hell.”

During my first encounter with probation…I got out of it what I put into it. Then one day, I met my match, a probation officer named Ron. I was placed in a program called Building Bridges, which is an unconventional form of probation that promotes positive rehabilitation in creative ways. This experience saved my life as I was taught to control my anger, to self-motivate, and to identify positive supports and role models. It was during this time that I was also introduced to Daybreak. Probation saved my life but Daybreak changed my life.

Once again, I found myself nervous and going through yet another intake process. However, this process was none like I ever had. I felt like I had finally found “My safe place”…No more running away.

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