May is National Foster Care Month! Here at the Alliance, we have loved hearing so many encouraging stories of those who have experienced foster care while also seeing the drastic effects that a positive community had along their journey. Each of the stories told reflects great hope, success, and courage.
Recently, I was able to speak with DeAndre Waters, a youth who experienced not only the foster system but the support of those around him. Below are the questions asked and DeAndre's response.
Could you tell me a little about your story?
When he was little, his parents were deemed not fit to take care of him which threw him in the middle of a difficult legal situation. During this time, he did not have a guardian by technical terms, but his aunt stepped up to take care of him.
What were some of the most impactful moments in your journey?
DeAndre shared that his aunt played such a big role in his growth as she filled the role of 'mother'. He also added that his cousin (Aunt's son) was a huge role model for him and helped shape his character. Through watching his cousin, DeAndre was better able to figure out who he is as a person.
How has a community made a difference for you?
DeAndre felt some of the effects of a good community growing up when he went to daycare at Ms. Shirley's while his aunt was at work. He said that at the daycare a lot of the kids grew close and had strong bonds through relating and simply being together. He said, "It did feel like a community to be there".
What is your hope for the future?
DeAndre currently attends UC Davis majoring in cinematic media. His hope is to become a videographer. He said he feels most comfortable behind the camera. He also wants to incorporate a helpful aspect in his videography, so he is trying to double major in sociology to figure out how he can help people through film.
What would you tell your 13-year-old self?
"Be resilient; stay resilient. You're always going to fail in life, but always be sure to get back up. It's a funny age to be, but you'll be alright."
Anything to add?
DeAndre added that Fostering Success and Significance (a mentoring program that works with former foster youth to help students navigate college and successfully transition into the workforce) has had a great impact on his life and on many others.
Community is so valuable in each of our lives. However, so many kids and families are without it. If you would like to learn more about supporting foster kids and families through giving your time and creating community, check out current volunteer needs here!