Preparing for independence
As a child, Robert learned to live without electricity, running water, food in the cupboards. He felt the loneliness of returning to an empty home, silently wishing someone had cared enough to wait up for him, cared enough to be there. It was his life for more than 10 years, the life he lived with his alcoholic, drug-addicted father.
It was a cycle Robert’s family and friends believed he was destined to repeat. For a while, Robert believed it, too.
Until he couldn’t take it anymore. The emptiness, the neglect, the hardships no child should endure.
Soon, he joined a loving foster family. Instead of listening to others label him a failure, Robert heard words of encouragement and praise.
“That’s when my dreams got big,” Robert says.
Already in his teens, Robert was close to “aging out” of foster care and worried about life on his own. While other parents taught their children how to manage allowance, study hard and strive for success, Robert watched his father lose jobs, neglect bills and spiral downward.
Fortunately, Robert learned about Children’s Home Society of Florida and relished the opportunity to learn how to live independently and make positive, responsible decisions.
“I tried to inhale the knowledge,” he says. “I learned about banking, housing, how to hold a job – my dad never taught me any of it.”
A proud high school graduate (with honors) and college student, Robert recently finished an internship with the Walt Disney World College Program – a dream come true for the aspiring photographer.
“You helped me get to where I am,” Robert says. “And I expect myself to do so much more – I won’t be the mediocre kid who just gets by. I have lots of dreams, and they’re all pretty big.”