Jayden was placed in a foster home when he was nine years old. His foster family was big—three little sisters and two big brothers. He liked his new home and family. He was thankful to come home from school each day to a dinner plate full of food.

The week after his eleventh birthday, a social worker pulled into the driveway. Jayden was told something had changed, and his foster parents could no longer take care of him. He was placed into a group home, and over the next five years, Jayden bounced between foster families and homelessness, struggling to find a place to call home.

Like many young people experiencing homelessness, the stress of not knowing where he would sleep next had a debilitating effect on Jayden’s life.

When he turned sixteen, Jayden dropped out of school and found a job as a busser at a small café. He hoped to save enough to eventually get his own apartment. He had been working for only two months before the restaurant fell into financial crisis and had to close.

Jayden applied to several jobs, but didn’t get any calls back.

He understood that not having his GED or high school diploma hurt his chances of finding a job.

Several weeks later, he discovered the GED classroom at YouthCare’s Orion Center where he found help with his educational goals.

Without a stable place to live, transportation was a challenge for Jayden: on some days, it took more than an hour by bus to get to the Orion Center to attend classes.

Yet when Jayden’s case manager, Christopher, helped him get an apartment at YouthCare’s independent living program, Home of Hope, everything changed.

With Christopher’s help, Jayden applied for a discounted bus pass to commute from his apartment to the Orion Center. Within one month of moving into his new apartment, Jayden passed all four of his tests and earned his GED.

Now, Jayden has a job as a prep cook at an Italian restaurant in the University District. But he isn’t stopping there. He is currently researching culinary schools, with big dreams to pursue a career he put on the back-burner years ago: becoming a chef and one day owning his own restaurant!
Like any young person, Jayden needed some stability in his life to build a future and explore his potential.

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