"The first 17 years of my life are probably not much like other kids my age that you might know. I was born in Colombia, adopted into an American family, and then kicked out when I began dating someone my family didn’t approve of."
Juan found out he was too old for foster care and he ended up in a work camp. When he was released, the only place he had to go was on the streets. He found a transitional living program, and it was there that he began to feel hope.
"I don’t care who you are: everyone needs a safe place to be, whether it’s your home, a relative’s home, or, in my case, an agency. Safety and security help people’s lives run when they are the most destitute. My agency provided me with the concrete things I needed for self-sufficiency: housing, assistance with getting a job and education, food, clothing, and safety. They also instilled in me a sense of hope, confidence, and responsibility. Their programs and my hard work helped me to reach my goals, but their staff’s acceptance, advocacy, and encouragement helped me to realize my potential."
Juan was able to practice playing his music every day with a piano that was donated to his agency. The agency’s employment and education program connected him to opportunities with a local children’s theater, where he gave piano lessons to children. His agency also supported him as he prepared to apply to colleges.
Juan is now a student at The Julliard School of Music in New York City. Having a creative outlet and pursuing his passion allows him to greet each day with new confidence.
"Like all of us, I still have challenges. But I know I can come back to my agency and have someone help me overcome them. I know I can succeed and make all of my dreams come true. Without my agency this would not be possible. In big and small ways, life does get better when there’s somebody there to show you that you matter."