I got put into foster care when I was seven years old. Actually, it was me, my older brother, my younger brother and my sister, all at the same time. We were split up and sent to four different foster homes. Our mother had serious drug issues and was gone a lot, often for weeks at a time. I was forced to get old real quick, long before I turned seven. My older brother and I took care of the two little ones when we still lived with our mother.
Life was tough at home. My mom rarely paid the bills and we often had no electricity in the house. It’s not easy being a little kid and taking care of a couple of babies with the utilities turned off. Our neighbors would help us out as they could.
But I have to say, foster homes weren’t a whole lot better. I was in five or six homes. One was pretty good, but the rest were terrible. Most times the foster parents made me and the other foster kids sleep in the basement on cots. We were always excluded from family outings and family functions. Aside from the one good experience I had, the foster parents I had were just in it for the money.
I couldn’t talk to my mother until about four years ago, I was so angry at her. But I can admit now that she just wasn’t capable of being a parent. I always wanted her to act like a mother. I even moved back home when I was thirteen. But I caught her with other men, still selling herself for drug money. That’s something a kid shouldn’t see.
That’s when I came to Boys Haven where I lived in the Residential Program during my high school years. I’d missed a lot of the school year I was home with my mother, but I scored high enough in my placement tests that they let me skip 8th grade. I’d always been a big reader, kind of self-taught I guess. I graduated from Atherton High School.
After high school I bounced around for a couple of years, got into trouble here and there, and was generally wasting my life. I got tired of drifting and came back to Boys Haven to be in their Independent Living Program. I have my own apartment and worked at Kroger for a while until they had an opening in the new Equine Program.
I’d done a little construction before, so I helped Jay build the new stables. Anything that needed to be done, I did it; everything from digging 102 holes for the foundation poles to helping with the roof. I learned how to use all kinds of skill saws and even how to drive a cherry picker. I was scared of heights, but I got used to it. Building that barn has been a big confidence builder for me. It taught me teamwork and how to handle stress. On a construction site, Murphy’s Law rules – “everything that can go wrong, will go wrong!”
I want to learn everything I can about the horse industry and hope to be able to work with kids like me someday, maybe even here at Boys Haven.
Boys Haven pretty much saved my life. They’ve fed me and clothed me and educated me. No one in my family ever did any of these things for me. Plus, the staff here would always tell me when I was doing good. Patrice practically adopted me when I lived here on campus. She took me home with her and her kids for holidays and weekends. I called her “Mom.” And Jay and Jason took me into their homes when I was cramming for some make-up classes I needed to finish my diploma. They made sure I had no excuse not to study!