A day before he turned 7, Roel’s mom died of ovarian cancer. Roel and his younger sister lived with family friends before going into foster care. After entering care, his foster family became abusive. Fourteen foster families, shelters and group homes later, he decided he was better off on his own. “I was always homeless or going from couch to couch,” he said, about that time in his life. “I could never think about school because I was always thinking about surviving.”
Like all kids, Roel had big dreams, so he knew he had to keep trying. He worked temporary jobs he found on Craigslist before landing his current job at Top Pot Doughnuts. “When you’re couch-surfing, getting a job and getting to that job on time is really hard. “Roel found help along the way from a bunch of organizations that United Way funds. Roel is now a student in the Year Up program—a rigorous education and career development program.
He is living in his own apartment with support from the Seattle YMCA. He is also the Seattle chapter leader at The Mockingbird Society, another United Way grantee that Roel credits with helping him get back on his feet. With Mockingbird, he regularly advocates for youth issues in Olympia.
Make a tangible difference for people going through homelessness. Be part of a supply drive leading up to our Community Resource Exchange on April 23.
in Basic Needs, 02/18/2015