Robert's Story: Homeless Youth
Being Abandoned Spurred Him to Help Others
Robert* entered into foster care when he was seven years old, the result of his mother’s incarceration. Robert’s mother had been addicted to crack, and because of her addiction, Robert’s early years were filled with instability and chaos.
Still, Robert’s life with his foster family didn’t seem better. Although they provided him with food and shelter, Robert felt like a second-class citizen among them. When he turned 18, his foster family kicked him out, telling him that they kept him only until they no longer received money for foster care services.
Robert was now homeless and alone. Unlike many of the young people who enter our Streetwork program, Robert had finished high school, but he had never lived on his own, and had never learned life skills from his foster family in order to take care of himself. He had no resources and no safety net. The only thing Robert had when he came to Streetwork was the clothes he wore when his foster family evicted him.
Robert had dreams, though, which he was determined to achieve. The first day he spoke to our Streetwork staff, he told them he wanted to become a social worker. To help Robert to reach his dream, we first had to give him a foundation on which to work. We placed Robert in our emergency shelter, where he received a bed, food, clothes, and safety. Because Robert was so focused, we were able to quickly move him into a two-year housing program to give him a more permanent place of his own. Robert needed a job, so our staff worked with him to prepare a resume and to find him interview clothes. He wanted to attend college, and so we helped him with his college application, and gave him the support he needed so he could begin his new life as a college student.
Today, Robert is living his dream. He has a Bachelors degree from City College and is working with a social service agency, where he provides support to homebound people living with AIDS.
Learn more about Safe Horizon’s Streetwork program.