NY based photographer Matthew Furman photographed Andre last week as part of the SalaamGarage Local-NYC Aging-Out of Foster Care in NYC project. So far, approximately 15 photographers, 10 writers, and 18 former foster youth have agreed to participate in this, the first SalaamGarage Local project. We are working hard to raise awareness and inspire action to help youth when they age out of the foster care system in the NYC metro area.
Andre, 22 Freeport, NY
When Andre was 7 years old social services came one day and took him and his 5 year old little brother away. His uncle had been beating them pretty badly. His little brother apparently was getting the worst of it, and he’s the one that told a nurse at school. Andre told Matt that is was pretty scary when strangers put him and his brother in a van and told them that they were going to a ‘better place’. The worst part was that the family that he went to wasn’t any better. Andre described, “some Spanish guy beating us too..dipping us in cold water as punishment.” It was hard for Matt to hear that, at the time, Andre was pissed at his brother because even though it was bad, he didn’t want to be away from his family. Looking back he isn’t mad at his brother anymore.
From the ages of 18-21 Andre lived at Seaford House where he had his own room. He is grateful that Seaford House kept him motivated to get out there and get a job. He earned his CNA, but quickly realized that it wasn’t for him.
Andre is working at a Babies R Us currently. Andre told Matt that he’d like to go back to school. So, Matt asked him where he sees himself in 5 years. Andre replied, “I want to be successful. I know how life really is, I’ve been through the lowest of lows, so I’m ready for the highs. Sky’s the limit. I’d like to have a nice home and eventually start a family.” To see photographer Matt Furman’s blog post and more photos click here: http://www.furmanfoto.com/blog/. Matt told me it was a great experience and he loved getting out there with just his camera and no crew, no lights, no studio…
Andre is part of a program that helps aged-out youth with housing subsidies. The Nassau County Homelessness Prevention & Rapid Re-Housing (HPRP) pilot program. Photographer Matthew Furman is still working on his story with a writer and will be looking for places in print and online to share his story.
Do you want to help get foster kids into permanent homes? Coney Island, NY based organization You Gotta Believe works to place older foster kids into safe permanent homes. They are on twitter @adoptolderkids. So far they have placed more than 400 older foster youth in permanent families. You can join their mentoring program, adopt a local older kid, or donate to their programs.
Also, you help youth as they age out of the foster care system in NYC by supporting the Children’s Aid Society Next Generation Center in the Bronx.
If you live in the NYC/NJ metro area and are a professional writer, reporter, photographer, videographer, or other media creator and would like to get involved please join the SalaamGarage Meetup group. Let me know if you know the perfect newspaper or magazine, online and in print for our teams to publish their stories.
For more info about SalaamGarage Local and the Aging-Out of Foster Care project, email firstname.lastname@example.org.