July 24, 2012
When 12 year-old Joseph began living with his Great Aunt Mary, he was feeling lost and confused. Joseph missed his friends, his school, and all the things that made his life seem normal.
Aunt Mary was 78 years old and had mobility challenges. She was loving and supportive, and Joseph knew that without her, he would have been placed in foster care and separated from his siblings. She was never going to play football or ride on roller coasters with him. She sometimes had a hard time helping him with his homework, and she didn’t seem to understand how hard it was to adjust to a new school.
Aunt Mary actually understood more than Joseph thought. She knew that he was an active, curious young man, and that he needed help adjusting to his new life. She began bringing Joseph to the Kinship Youth Program (KYP) at Family Support Services so that he would receive help with his homework and be around other children and youth.
Joseph began taking part in monthly community service outings that helped him feel more like he belonged in this new city. He went to his first professional baseball game with a group of youth from KYP. Joseph felt more connected within this community of peers and youth leaders.
After a year with KYP, Joseph says he feels more stable. He knows he is safe and loved at home by his Great Aunt Mary, and he has a strong support system at KYP, where he is encouraged to use his energy in positive ways to develop leadership skills. When he is feeling frustrated with school, he receives assistance from the KYP staff, who help him to work out a study plan to get back on track. Most importantly, Joseph knows that the people in his life are working together to help him make the best decisions he can as he grows up.