Jayne Amelia talks with former foster youth Angelo Melendez. When Angelo was orphaned at the age of 2, he was sent to live in foster care in an all boys group home. Luckily he soon went into the care of loving foster parents, Howie and Carol Cohen, who call him "the one" and wanted to adopt him. Angelo spent several happy years with them in Beverly Hills until the court decided that he should be sent to live with his biological relatives, whom he didn't know, in the barrio in East LA. The adjustment was difficult, painful, and confusing. He calls his childhood a journey of riches to rags and rags to riches. But there’s more to the story. "Art has always flowed through my veins… and I had dreams of becoming a comic book artist...from countless nights at the kitchen table sitting with my brother after dinner to my scribble scrambles in the classroom where I could never pay any attention to the school work. Eventually I found sanctuary in graffiti––coming from a world when I had little control or no recognition––the graffiti world was a chance to reinvent myself. While running the streets with my crew, I began to work the graffiti world in a logistical and thorough way, learning to manage multiple illegal art projects, and even coordinating the restocking of spray paint supplies…and I earned respect and recognition. Oddly enough, this is where I found my talent and passion to lead my team to success. Fast forward: I started in 2008 at one company as a temp laborer, and earned steady recognition for superior effort and performance, moving from operator to supervisor roles. I was able to rise through the ranks by rising to the occasion. Fast forward to the Present: Working as a manager in seafood (microbiology) from around the world, managing and coordinating multiple departments for my company’s distribution center. Future: I am looking now on the near and far horizons for more in life and in search of more challenging endeavors."
Foster Care in CA
National Foster Parent Association
The Village Family Services
Go to NationalCASAGAL.org
to find out more about becoming a CASA anywhere in the US
and CASALA.org in Los Angeles.