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

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Inspiration and Comfort
Thomas with kids.
Thomas with school kids.

Although Thomas had never had steady employment, he found a job working with children in the after-school program at Stockton Elementary School. He worked 20 hours a week for $10 an hour. He really enjoyed working with children and felt that it was preparing him for something better in the future.

THOMAS: They go from six to 12. I always get the ones that everybody can't really deal with. Those are the ones that are drawn to me. They give everybody else problems, but when they are in my group, they listen to me. Working with them has taught me so much about myself. At the same time, it also brought me down a bit because these kids have so many opportunities. I had to force myself to be happy for them. It is a greedy thing to envy a kid, but it is not the kid. It is the situation. Because, damn, that should have been me.

It's a greedy thing to envy a kid, but it's not the kid, it's the situation.  Cause like, damn, that should have been me.
Video of school

Thomas was extremely close to his grandmother -- she was the only person in his family that gave him love and unconditional support. As Thomas would explain it, his grandmother was his best friend, his diary, his strength, his world. On the anniversary of her death, Thomas visited her grave and told her how frustrated and sad he had been since she left.

The grave of Thomas's grandmother
THOMAS: I came because I had some stuff to talk to you about. Some people in this family, I don't want to have nothing to do with. I don't like them. They don't like me. It's been established. I just want to get away from them all. So, you up there in heaven, this is what I want you to do for me. This could be an early birthday present. You fix it where I find some other people to replace them.

One of the reasons Thomas depended so much on his grandmother's love was that she was the most constant and consistent person in his life. Other family members, he felt, were too troubled themselves to be there to support him.

Video of Thomas talking to his grandmother THOMAS: People who make babies and then desert them, they don't realize the danger that they put their children in. It's just like putting a baby on the expressway in a stroller. I went through all types of changes. My mother on drugs. Uncles on drugs. Grandmother sick. Violence, drinking. I just wasn't happy at all.

My mother, she was so into drugs then. She was beating on me. One time she put an ax on me. My mother has put knives and stuff to my throat, telling me if I tried to leave her she would kill me. I began to call DCFS, "I am being abused, neglected, whatever you want to call it. You all need to do something about it." So they took me away.

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