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Robert prepares for college

September 7, 2011

Robert with his TL specialist, Cassie

Robert’s had a big summer.

He attended a leadership forum at Disney World, attended his high school prom, became a Christian and graduated high school.

He’s also narrowed his college choices for the fall.

Robert has been staying with Nancy and Larry for the past few months. Their home had a big effect on him.

“Before, I wasn’t really confident,” he said. “But they accepted me and I felt more at ease. I could be myself.”

Larry recently passed away, and Robert’s more committed to helping the family stay successful, including helping with the family business, a mixed martial arts school run by Devan, Larry and Nancy’s youngest biological son. But Robert’s circle of help doesn’t end with his family. Robert’s participating in Youth Villages’ transitional living program. Cassie Mitchell is his TL specialist.

“Cassie’s the biggest help,” Robert said. “We’re working on time management skills and researching colleges. She’s helping me with financial aid paperwork for school.”

Youth Villages began a transitional living program in 1999 to help children get a good start on adulthood in the crucial years between age 17 and 22. Transitional living specialists help young people learn to deal with the minor and major problems that come with adulthood. They help participants find housing and health services, learn how to access transportation and meet their basic needs. Counselors teach life skills like budgeting, menu planning and grocery shopping. Young people in the transitional living program set education and career goals.

Robert is also a member of the second group of YV Scholars. Youth Villages recently began offering additional support for youth in the transitional living program who plan to go to college.

Cassie and Robert visit regularly and talk nearly every day. Robert also credits his foster home for getting him on this path to a brighter future.

“It’s the best home in the world,” he said. “We do everything together. Six months ago I wasn’t like I am now.”

Robert’s spent many years in foster care.

He was adopted once before, but his adoptive parent terminated rights. He has a history of physical aggression and other behaviors. Cassie met Robert before he enrolled in the TL program. She filled in for another employee by transporting Robert a few months before.

“We hit it off right away,” Cassie said. “We found that we have quite a bit in common. When Robert came to TL, we didn’t have to go through that orientation period because we already knew each other pretty well.”

And with a support structure in place, Robert is excited about his future.

“I’ve gotten a lot out of the past six months,” Robert said. “It’s been a lot of firsts for me. The support I’ve received from home and from Cassie has allowed me to do it, to stretch out and do things I didn’t think I’d be able to do.”

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