I’ve learned that getting ahead is a choice.
Frank, 23 years old
Former New Directions Resident (2009)
I was born May 13, 1986 in Oakland, California. At the age of two, my dad was shot in the head. He and my mom were both drug dealers. Dad was shot because of a drug deal gone bad. He lived until I was 15 years old, but was badly brain damaged and had seizures.
About the same time my dad was shot, my mom went to jail for drug dealing. My grandma was sick so my brothers, sisters, and I were separated and sent to different foster homes. I went to Ms. Mayfield’s. I was unhappy and scared living there and she would even lock me in the closet.
My dad’s sister who I called “Auntie Grannie” visited me while I was at Ms. Mayfield’s. After she found out about me being locked in the closet, she came and got me.
I was a really angry kid and when I was in 5th grade I went to a mental health school because of behavior problems.
I later went to high school, but my social skills were way off so I started smoking weed. I dropped out of high school in 11th grade, started smoking weed and drinking every day and just hanging out with the wrong crowd.
When I was 18, I got into trouble for cashing bad checks. When I went to jail I vowed that I would never go to jail again. The worst part about being in jail was not being able to see my family. Despite all that had happened, I still loved them and missed them. I was in Alameda County Jail for three months with a misdemeanor that I hope to get expunged some day.
When I got out of jail, I bounced around, couch surfing with friends and then moved to San Diego in 2005 to live with my mom who had gotten out of jail. But I still hadn’t learned to follow rules and mom finally kicked me out.
I became homeless and was sleeping in my car. Then one day I went to a local community services agency and got a pamphlet for New Directions. I talk to Monica there. One thing that stuck with me is that Monica said “You guys are my heroes.” It made me feel good that people like me could be heroes to someone like Monica.
I came to New Directions and met Christiana, my advocate. She began to work with me. She pulled the drive out of me. Within a month of living here I started working at Toys R Us, learned to follow rules and even got other people jobs there. I was laid off from seasonal work, but two weeks later got my next job at Little Caesar’s where I met Calleen the owner. I helped other participants get jobs there as well.
After saving some money, I bought a car. I joined the New Directions committee by working with the Casa de Amparo staff to make the program a better place for the participants. I’ve learned that getting ahead is a choice. All of us at New Directions were foster kids. All were born into adversity but we’re all trying hard to reconnect with family, friends and create new lives.
I enrolled in school at Palomar College and started classes this summer. I also started working at the Mottino YMCA in membership services for the Summer Youth Employment program. I’ve made a lot of friends and connections while being there.
I will get my GED soon through Palomar College. I’m taking a class in broadcasting and have an internship. I’m trying out for football. When I finish New Directions I plan on staying in my current apartment.
I want to go to college someday, graduate and begin to pursue my dreams of helping people. I’m in pursuit of happiness. My dream is to be a sportscaster and make enough money to open a recreation center for disadvantaged kids. Kids like I was, but kids that learn sooner than I did that no matter where you come from, it is possible to get ahead.