By Britt Moreno
DENVER (CBS4) - 22-year-old DeAndre brought a cup of hot chocolate to his lips, paused and said, "I feel good when I look back and see where I came from and where I'm going." Then took a sip.
The burly young man's hands dwarfed the coffee mug as he grinned at CBS4's Britt Moreno. The two were at a downtown Denver coffee shop to talk about DeAndre's journey.
"Why are you willing to talk about your painful past?" Moreno asked.
"I want to help other kids aging out of foster care," DeAndre replied.
When asked about his youth, he said, "It really wasn't a childhood."
His earliest memory involves social service workers removing him from his mom. He was eventually returned and recalls many failed attempts at trying to live with his birth family. Deandre eventually went into foster care permanently when he was 13.
CBS4 originally introduced our viewers to Deandre when he was 16. He was a Wednesday's Child in 2012. He learned to make scallops at the Colorado Institute of Art.
However, Deandre was never adopted and he aged out of the system when he was 19. He was all alone. He had no money, no guidance on where to go and no support. Deandre became homeless. He described that time as "sleeping under a bridge or tent camps." The biggest struggle for him was "not knowing when your next meal will come from and the lack of sleep because you are (up) worried about your safety."
DeAndre was later introduced to Urban Peak which helped him get back on his feet. Now he is finishing school and will soon become an EMT. Why? Because DeAndre wants to help people. His biggest message was that there is not enough help for foster care kids who age out of the system. Deandre blames the system and lack of funding as to why there is not enough support for young people aging out.
He says more needs to be done.
"Any normal child has their parents to fall back on. When you release foster care kids, we have nothing to fall back on. We can't run back to the foster homes. It's just done," he explained.
There might be a day when Deandre chooses to go back to the foster care system. He says he wants to adopt out of foster care once he has a stable job.
"I know what it's like to wake up in foster care and not know if you will ever find a home."
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