A Second Chance, Thanks to DePelchin
A Second Chance, Thanks to DePelchin
Last year, DePelchin Children’s Center opened a home for young adults, ages 18-22, who had aged out of foster care and were at risk of becoming homeless. In addition to offering youths a safe, stable living environment, DePelchin’s Transitioning to Adulthood through Guidance and Support (TAGS) program helps guide these young adults to becoming financially independent and self-sufficient.
We sat down with one of the program residents, Marcos, for an insider look at how the TAGS program is helping him today.
Hi Marcos, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I moved into the TAGS residence in early November. I am currently working in food prep at My Fit Foods, which is close by on Memorial Drive so I am able to walk back and forth to work. I received MVP Employee in December along with being recognized for a raise and a promotion. I have a lot of responsibility, and I am really proud to do a good job.
What do you hope to get out of the TAGS program?
I hope by living here and working, I will be able to save enough money to buy a car and afford my own apartment. I want to go back to school in August and work on my degree in Diesel Mechanics. The car though is my first priority- it’s going to make my life infinitely easier by providing a way to get to school. I have always wanted my own family, and I know this place will help me achieve that one day.
How did you get connected with the TAGS program?
I have had the same CPS case worker since I was 14; and even though she may not have been my immediate case worker, we always kept in touch. I now refer to her as my “Auntie.” I grew up in foster care in the Austin area, but I moved back to Houston where I am from originally when I turned 19. I was staying with various friends for short periods of time, when Auntie told me about the TAGS program. That day, I decided I wanted to grow up and ask for help. I realized that if I was comfortable asking for help, I could set better goals for the future and end up with a better life.
How is the program helping you today?
The biggest thing I have learned is how to manage money. I have learned not only the importance of saving money for the future but how to put money into a savings account along with how to write and cash a check. Even though my current rent here is free, I have learned to set aside money every month like I am paying rent so that I can add to my savings. I have also learned a lot about safety. We have monthly fire drills and if you didn’t know to “Stop Drop and Roll,” you will after living here. I was lucky to have my GED but if you don’t, the program will help you achieve it or help you get started on your college degree.
What else does the program help you with?
In addition to help with budgeting, we are also given a METRO card each week for $20. Sometimes you have to go far distances from DePelchin for things like a doctor’s appointments or a job, so it is really helpful. I am given my own room with a bed, cabinet, fridge and bathroom. DePelchin also provides us with bedding, light bulbs, toilet paper and toiletries in addition to interview clothes if you need them. If I want, I can buy my own food and store it in my room or I can eat the food provided for everyone’s use. I’ve learned how to balance depending on myself and not depend on DePelchin for everything.
Are you friends with the other program residents?
Yes! The first Wednesday of every month we get together to talk about what we need to work on and how we are working to meet our goals. It has been important to remember that Ms. Erin and Ms. Nancy (DePelchin staff) are here to help if you need them.
Where do you think you would be you weren’t in the TAGS program?
Honestly, I’d be living on the streets. I have friends and family, but I don’t want to overstay my welcome with them and don’t want to have to depend on others.
How do you feel at this point in your life?
I have ambition, and I am hungry to do right. I am trying to stay positive and be a good role model to others. I look at my experiences in foster care and think of them positively because of the opportunities I was given. I always had a safe place to stay as well as food and clothing. Because of foster care, I was able to get my GED. I’ve learned from my past mistakes and realized that I am here today because of my past and I have seen firsthand how making positive changes can make a big difference. I’ve learned to appreciate what I have, especially when it comes to necessities.
Are you interested in learning more about the TAGS program, or getting involved in supporting these young adults?
- Cooking Classes
- Drop off a home-cooked meal
- Toiletry items
- Cleaning supplies
- Paper towels
- Chest deep freezer
Email email@example.com to learn more.