A Safe Haven: Former Foster Youth Gives Back

Frankie knows how children feel when they are suddenly removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect. “You start off scared. You’re being taken out of your home,” he explains. “You’re overwhelmed, you want your mother or father.”

Frankie knows this because he lived it.

At age 7, he entered foster care due to neglect by his mother, who used drugs. Now, Frankie has made it his life’s work to help children who are entering the child welfare system. He is a residential counselor at The Cottage, Wayfinder’s transitional shelter care program.

“I want them to know you can bounce back. This is not long-term,” he says. “And it’s not their fault.”

When he was in foster care, Frankie realized that he had a choice. “I could be scared of change, or I could be resilient. I could blame the system or utilize it.” Frankie chose to use the system, taking full advantage of the benefits offered to foster children in higher education to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Frankie wants children at The Cottage to understand that they are not powerless. “The most important things are them knowing that they have a safe place to stay, staff members who care, and they have rights,” he says.

His approach is to give hugs generously and to be a good listener and mentor. Frankie knows that even a small gesture can make all the difference to a scared child whose world has been turned upside down.

“I have an opportunity to change someone’s journey, to change someone’s path,” he says. “My high school motto was ‘find a path
or make one.’ I feel I’m making a path for a new generation. And that’s what I enjoy doing most.”

January 15, 2019