Donate & Volunteer
My name is Cordell and I am 25; I entered the foster care system when I was just two weeks old. At the age of five, I was placed in an abusive foster home - this experience haunts me to this day.
I found safety and consistency in my next placement. My foster mother, an elderly woman who I would come to love as my mother, cared for me in a way that no one ever had. When I first went to live with her, I was scared and quiet and would often cry myself to sleep at night asking why I was put on this earth. But with time I adjusted and even began excelling in school.
In high school I started to have issues expressing my feelings and quickly starting hanging out with the wrong crowd. I participated in gang activities, sold drugs, started to steal and even fought with police. My foster mother told me, "There is something special about you... you're better than this."
Despite her support, I went to jail at the age of 16. When I was let out of the detention facility, my foster mother was unable to care for me because of my issues. I was sent downstate to a residential center; there I felt alienated and misunderstood, and fought to get transferred elsewhere.
A year later, in September 2004, I was placed in UCAN's Therapeutic Youth Home. I immediately felt a difference; it felt like a real home. People talked to me like I was a person who mattered. The structure at the home grounded me and the staff provided me with the stability that I sorely needed. I felt like something inside of me was changing. Due to my progress I was able to eventually move into UCAN's Transitional Living Program, where I learned how to become independent and take care of myself. My former foster mother unfortunately passed away during this time, which was very difficult for me. The staff at UCAN helped me grieve and provided the much-needed support I required. I promised my foster mother that I would do better - and I did.
I started working and going to school at the same time. I graduated from high school and will graduate with a double major in Economics and Sociology from Northern Illinois University in May. I could have been one of the 6.7 million youth aged 16-24 nationwide who are not enrolled in school and are detached from the labor market. But I was determined not to become a negative statistic.
UCAN works with more than 13,500 kids and families each year. They work with people like me who have been affected by violence, abuse, and neglect.
I ask that you please consider giving a gift to UCAN this holiday season. Your donation can help UCAN deliver quality services, keep communities safe, and importantly - give a youth a home.
UCAN could not accomplish all they do without people like you; thank you for your support. Whatever the amount, your gift can make a difference in the life of a young person.
Happy Holidays to you and your family!
With great appreciation,
UCAN Youth Ambassador
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