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Aging Out
My Story
David Griffin
Risa Bejarano
Daniella Anderson
Keely Lopez
Thomas Hudson


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Chicago, Illinois

Thomas Hudson entered foster care at the age of 13, after attempting suicide and enduring years of being severely abused by his drug-addicted mother. For seven years, he bounced around from shelters to mental health facilities to group homes. At age 20, he had six months left in the foster care system. He was living in an apartment supervised by Hull House, an independent living program in Chicago.

THOMAS: There are only two people that I can really depend on, and that's me and God. When I'm feeling bad, when them tears begin to fall from my eyes, there's nobody here but me. With me gonna be 21 in December, I'm about to be grown, legal. I can get into clubs. I can buy alcohol. I plan to be in somebody's club and dancing my little self silly. I'm going to party.

As long as Thomas worked and stayed in school, Hull House paid his rent and gave him a $200 a month stipend, a bus pass, a clothing allowance and a Medicaid card. Thomas had already dropped out of a previous college. If he dropped or failed any of his current classes, he would lose his scholarship. Unfortunately, Thomas had lost interest in attending.

THOMAS: I'm just unhappy about a lot of stuff. I don't see any classes that I really even want to take. Damn, to me it's just pointless.

Alexia Vaday, an education counselor for Thomas's independent living program, tried to persuade him to stay in school. When Thomas explained he simply was not interested in some of the courses, she told him sometimes classes may not seem relevant, but they build character and prepare one for the future. When Thomas insisted that he could not stay in school because he did not care about the subjects, Alexia told Thomas that he was sabotaging himself.

Thomas Hudson
When I'm feeling bad, when them tears begin to fall from my eyes, there's nobody here but me.
Video of Thomas talking about God

Thomas's education counselor urged him to stay in school
Thomas's education counselor urges him to stay in school.


Video of Thomas talking about his unpredictable personality
THOMAS: One of my biggest challenges is dealing with people in authority. I'll be the first to admit that. I know to do what I need to do in order to get where I need to go. However, I'm not going kiss nobody's butt. See, there's two Thomases. There is good little Thomas and there is just bad Thomas. The bad Thomas is the one who will cuss you out. He comes up when he threatened, when he is frustrated, when he just can't take no more. Thomas is, I would say, a box of crayons. You never know what color you're going pull out. You close your eyes and pull out a crayon, you don't know what you are going to get.

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