“I don’t really remember my mother at all. I know she left us when I was 4 and my brother Michael was 2. I guess she couldn’t help it she was doing a lot of drugs. That’s when I started in foster care, and I’ve been there ever since. I don’t know how many foster homes I’ve been in.

My best foster home was with a woman named Elsa who taught me to cook rice and beans. You know, I still love to cook. I was there for a few years and I remember how scared and nervous I was when I had to leave. A lot of foster parents find it harder to deal with older kids. I guess some of that was my fault too.

I was a pretty good student when I was little, but I guess missing so much school hasn’t helped. I’m a year behind in school and getting Ds. Bridges to Health is helping me move to a new school that’s smaller where I can do better. I’d really like to go to college someday, and my Bridges to Health worker thinks I can do it. I’ve been in the program for only six months, but I feel like she’s really there to help me. She comes to my home and talks to my foster mom. She’s also helped me figure out how to get along better with the other foster kids here.

My dream is someday to have my own apartment where my brother can live with me. I speak to him whenever I can, he’s the only real family I have. Sometimes I feel like there’s a hole in my heart, but I think I will be able to fill it someday when I have my own family. I will try very hard to take care of them and never leave them.”