The Fourth of July is a special time for many Americans as we gather with those we love to celebrate freedom, independence and barbecue. I, for one, had a fantastic day with friends, food and fun in celebration of the freedoms we enjoy every day.
Freedom is an incredible thing when you know what to do with it. I was so fortunate to have options waiting for me when I aged out of foster care. I had scholarship offers to universities and support systems to help me take advantage of those opportunities.
When I look back on this time in my life, I can’t imagine what I would have done without these options. I’m so thankful I had the necessary tools to take advantage of my newfound independence.
Over 23,000 youth aged out of foster care in 2012. Imagine the impossibly daunting task of becoming an independent adult overnight. It’s no wonder so many of our brothers and sisters find themselves unemployed, homeless or incarcerated.
That’s why on this Independence Day, as I celebrate freedom, I also acknowledge its dangers by donating to an organization providing youth services to ease the arduous journey from foster youth to foster alumnus. I’ve chosen the program I graduated from: Beyond Emancipation in Oakland, Calif.
Happy Fourth of July!
Patrick Burns is a freelance actor, writer and musician. Burns wrote “From Foster Care to Fabulous,” a one-man-play chronicling my experience as a foster youth.