Sheldon Young, an affable and intelligent 20 year-old from Los Angeles, was put into foster care when he was only two because his mother was not fit to take care of him. Although he was placed with his great grandmother, the situation was still was not ideal because there were already nine other extended family members living in her cramped two-bedroom home. When Sheldon was 17, his great grandmother died suddenly and the extended family kicked him out of his great grandmother’s house. Now emancipated from foster care and completely on his own, he bounced around from friends’ couches to short-term housing programs while he worked and struggled to stay in college.
In the summer of 2010, Sheldon entered the First Place for Youth program and moved into his own apartment. “Ever since I had to leave Great Grandma’s house, I’ve been struggling,” he says. “I was so anxious about my future. I didn’t know how I was going to make it.” Now that he has stable and affordable housing, Sheldon is concentrating on finishing up his studies at Long Beach City College and transferring to a local university. He is adamant that the profession he chooses will be one that helps kids like him. “I can be most effective with youth who are struggling because I know what they’re going through and they’ll listen to me,” he says. “It’s my way of passing on my experience and the support others have given me.”