In these two pieces we hear from a young adult and a mentor who are both part of our program and share what FOCUS means to them.
From a FOCUS Young Adult
“At 16 years old my brother and I came home from school and were told that we were going to be taken to a foster home. The thought of being taken away from my mom was terrifying, but hearing I wouldn’t be placed with my brother was even scarier. We were taken to a run down village and placed on opposite sides. Luckily my brother and I were very fortunate to only spend a total of 4 days in those foster homes and were later placed with our Uncle.
“The journey through DCF was rough. Between caseworkers that made me feel unheard and unwanted and so much miscommunication on many levels, going through the system was difficult to say the least. I had a total of 5 caseworkers in 5 years and I felt that every time I started feeling comfortable with one they would tell me someone else was taking my case with little time in between and sometimes no warning at all. As the time was coming to age out I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to survive on my own without the little help of DCF.
“When I got the option to join FOCUS as aging out was coming close I was very hesitant. After my awful experiences with DCF I wasn’t sure if I could trust another adult with everything that was going on. After thinking about it more I decided to give it a fair chance. After my first interaction with someone from FOCUS for the first time I felt heard and respected as the young adult I am. I felt like aging out of DCF was not as scary as it seemed anymore and I knew that FOCUS was going to be a great program to be a part of. I saw a light in my future that I couldn’t see before after dealing with being in DCF. DCF eventually closed my case without notifying me what was going on and FOCUS was right there to help. The checks I was getting abruptly stopped with no warning and then over time my caseworker just never spoke to me again.
“Since being a part of FOCUS whenever I had asked for help whether it was for help with rent or help with finding a computer for school FOCUS was right there helping me out with nothing but support. I was sick with COVID and out of work for over a week. I was so concerned with paying rent and I remember talking to someone at FOCUS once about it and a few days later I had a check to help with rent. I was so scared to lose the apartment I worked so hard to get and with FOCUS I never had to worry about that. I was starting to take a course with work to get closer to my goal to be a certified preschool teacher and I was worried because I did not have a reliable computer. FOCUS brought me a laptop within days to make sure I could take the class and continue to reach my goal. I was never made to feel embarrassed of my situation and I am always supported in anything I need. I was given a mentor who I adore and feel absolutely comfortable with. It is a great feeling to know there is an adult in my life that I can talk to about anything and who genuinely cares. I know that if I need absolutely anything I can count on FOCUS to help. For the first time in my life I feel like I have adults I can rely on to help me become the best person I can be. WIthout FOCUS I would not be as successful as I am in my career and with having my first apartment. I will forever be grateful for all the people I have met at FOCUS and all the help they have given me.”
From a FOCUS Mentor
“Community Mentoring has been a uniquely joyous experience for me. Developing a stable, reliable and meaningful support system for my mentees feels like some of the most important work I have ever done. I have worked hard earning their trust and helping them reach their personal and professional goals. Being that one person who makes a real difference in their lives is humbling, educational and transformative.”