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Patrick McGrath

When Patrick was 12 years old, he was taken from his family and placed in the foster care system. “My first thought,” he said, “was ‘my life is over.’” Throughout the next six years, Patrick was moved more than a dozen times, from group homes in Santa Cruz and Santa Clara Counties, to foster families, and with family members. However, none of these places offered the home and family that Patrick so desperately longed for and needed, and so he ran away, and was homeless and “AWOL” from the system for six months. Patrick said that, in lieu of a “real” family, several of the boys in one of the group homes created their own version of a family. “We called each other brother, and protected each other. However, Patrick was desperate for a father figure in his life: “I never really had a father figure – they all left me.” When Patrick was 15 and first met his Advocate, Lynda, he thought, “Well, she has sons– maybe she’ll know what to do with me. Maybe this actually won’t be that bad.” After three years together, Patrick says, “Now whenever we hang out, it’s awesome. She really understands me – I can talk to her about anything.” Patrick, now 18, is well aware of the dismal statistics for foster youth graduating from high school (only 50%), and graduating from college (only 2%). “I read those statistics – they’re not good,” Patrick said. “I made a promise to myself that I wasn’t going to be one of those statistics.” With Lynda’s consistent support – “She kept telling me, ‘You’re so close!’” -- Patrick graduated from high school in June. In August, he moved to Sacramento, to attend Universal Technical Institute, and is training to become an International Diesel Mechanic. With his degree, he will be prepared for a good career. Patrick’s goal after completing the program is to travel internationally and use his trade to support himself. He dreams about what his future family will look like. “When I have kids, I’m not going to let anything happen to them that happened to me. They’re going to have a regular life, without fear or violence or anger. Just a regular life.”

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