Forrest, Julie, Neide, Casey, and Amanda. Justin can still rattle off the names of all the HopeWell social workers he dealt with after entering foster care at the age of three.
Today, at age 18, Justin remains grateful for the care and concern they showed for him during his often-tumultuous childhood. As a teenager, he grew especially close to two of them – Casey and Amanda. He was able to confide his everyday stresses and struggles to them.
“They made a big impact on my life,” he says of Casey and Amanda, recalling how he looked forward to their weekly visits, and how they took him on road trips around the state. “They are two of the most caring people I’ve ever met.”
After bouncing around to several foster homes over the course of nearly 10 years, Justin landed in his last home when he was 12. According to him, it’s been the best one by far.
“She’s the ideal foster mom,” Justin says of Jayd. “She treats me like her own son.” That means he has full rein of the refrigerator and pantry, but also that she hounds him about “mom stuff” like grades and chores.
Once settled in Jayd’s home in Dorchester, Justin’s life stabilized and he began to thrive as a student at Fenway High School. He became more serious about academics, and Casey introduced him to boxing, which he enjoyed. As his 18th birthday approached, he received additional support from HopeWell to help him navigate the often-challenging transition from foster care into adulthood.
When Justin thought about his future, he always knew it would involve helping people. Today, he is a freshman at Fitchburg State University, majoring in psychology with the goal of becoming a social worker himself. Despite his busy schedule, he still keeps in contact with Casey and Amanda, who have continued to offer their support as he adjusts to college life.
Thinking of children experiencing foster care, Justin says, “I want them to have someone they can relate to; someone who knows what it’s like to be in their shoes – but I also want to help them have fun.”
“They wanted to see me grow and succeed.” – Justin