My name is Charlie. I am 21 years old from Jersey City. Growing up was challenging for me. My mother was addicted to drugs and my father wasn’t present. My mother had eight children and didn’t take care of any of us. I grew up in three different foster homes until my great aunt took my older brother and I in. She passed away when I was nine years old and I was forced to move in with my cousin. My cousin was really mean to my brother and I. My brother left and I felt alone. Years later, at 14 I moved in with my older sister who had two daughters, I was forced to care for.
At the age of 14, it felt like I was a mother of 2.
At 18, I had a minor stroke due to stress between home and school. Despite the challenges, I still graduated with a 3.2 GPA.
I was supposed to go to Bethune Cookman University in Daytona Beach but I couldn’t afford it and didn’t attend. I ended up staying in Florida with an extended family for 6 months. I returned to Jersey City attending Hudson Community College to major in Early Childhood Education. I thought things would get better coming home but I couch surfed and lived on the streets briefly. It was the scariest time in my life.
I found my way to Covenant House through my church. I was reluctant to go to Newark. But it turned out to be the best decision for me. I got a job within a month. I moved into The Rights Of Passage Program which is an independent youth program, teaching you to budget, cook and clean. I was able to save $6,500 in ten months.
My goals are to get my Associates degree, then attend NJCU to get my Bachelor’s in Education with a minor in Spanish. I want to be a teacher because I never really got to be a child having been forced to grow up so quickly. But I feel those experiences will prepare me to help someone else in the classroom who might be struggling with something similar.
Are you a youth in need of help?