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Larry entered the foster care system when he was eight years old. He spent several years of his young life moving between foster homes and the households of extended family members, rarely staying in one place for more than a few months at a time.

 

“Everything I owned literally fit into a duffle bag with room to spare,” Larry recalls.

 

The constant upheaval took a significant toll on Larry, and he became guarded and withdrawn as a way of coping. Then, just before his 10th birthday, Larry entered Seneca Center’s Intensive Treatment Foster Care program and was matched with the woman he would come to know and love as “Mom.”

 

When he went to live with Linda, a Seneca foster parent, and her biological son, Michael, Larry felt like he was home at last. “I really felt welcome. It was a feeling that I could really exist in this house. The family welcomed me as a child and as an equal. They accepted me as who I was, regardless of my past and my experiences.”

 

Larry thrived as a member of Linda’s family and finally got to experience a true childhood. He inherited a passion for dirt bikes from big brother, Michael, and weekends were filled with family adventures – road trips, camping, and jet skiing. According to Larry, “Mom made us become active. She wouldn’t let us sit at home and play video games.”

 

When it came to school, Linda served as a strong advocate for Larry by meeting regularly with his teachers and making sure that he got an IEP (Individualized Education Plan). In 2008, he defied the odds by graduating from Merrill F. West High School in Tracy. Since fewer than 50% of youth in foster care complete high school, Larry’s degree was a notable accomplishment and his pride is still evident when he talks about it.

 

Larry continues to live with Linda while he attends community college, works as a security guard, and prepares to fulfill his longstanding dream of becoming a firefighter. Following in the footsteps of his big brother, Larry now serves as a mentor to his younger foster brother, a Seneca youth who has been placed with the family for two years.

 

Larry knows from experience that foster parents “can change a life” and he encourages more people to open their hearts and homes to children in need of safe, loving families where they can grow and thrive.

 

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