Manifesting His Future
At LSS of Northern California, our vision is to end homelessness and create communities that offer stability, hope and a path to self-sufficiency. Here is the story of a youth who completed our MiCasa program for former foster youth ages 18-24.
Just 21 years old, Gabriel is calm, focused and steady in his gaze as he speaks to you. His demeanor and thoughtful conversation makes it difficult to imagine all he has experienced: physical and sexual abuse, unstable foster care situations, gender-identity questions and homelessness.
A deep spirituality – he is drawn to Buddhism -- has helped keep Gabriel grounded in his young. And he is enthusiastic about his future.
He states resolutely, “I am manifesting my path.”
Gabriel entered foster care at age three. No one in his immediate family could or would take care of him or his two brothers. He endured neglect and physical abuse as a child. Early in his childhood, he He questioned his gender-identity early in childhood but found no support from his family, with whom he had little interaction anyway.
Not surprisingly, Gabriel struggled with anger management, depression and feelings of abandonment, as did his brothers. Throughout childhood and his teens, he lived in a series of residential group homes for children with severe emotional problems and prescribed strong psychiatric medications that sometimes made him feel like a zombie.
Counseling and therapy taught Gabriel coping skills and how to advocate for himself and for others. He has a strong desire to help others, especially youth in foster care. He participated in the California Youth Connection’s lobbying days to advocate for issues and laws important to the well-being of California’s the state’s large foster youth population, estimated at 62,000.
He left foster care at age 17 and moved from one transitional housing program to another, eventually ending up in a youth shelter. This experience made Gabriel especially grateful for MiCasa, where he has his own furnished room and access to a communal kitchen and living room. It’s clean, has a yard and offers easy access to mass transit. Most of the other group homes and the shelter lacked these modest features.
The MiCasa program provided Gabriel with the stability and support he needs to build a future for himself. “I like the structure, which creates responsibility. And you learn to live with others.”
His LSS caseworker helped Gabriel explore educational and employment opportunities as well as access other services he needed. While at MiCasa, he maintained a full schedule, attending Gurnick Medical Academy four nights a week and working a part-time job. Those earnings helped him contribute his 30% share of rent, a requirement at MiCasa. When not studying, he meditated, exercised, and practiced Mixed Martial Arts and Brazilian Jujitsu.
Studying to become a Certified Nursing Assistant and Phlebotomist gave him a strong sense of purpose – helping others –and unearthed a fascination with science. He hopes to pursue a nursing or physician’s assistant degree in the future.
Gabriel’s growing resolve and focus on the good and positive things in his life leaves you with the sense that this young man will create a life that will allow him to remain stable and realize his dream to help others.