Aaron is one of 182 youth actively participating in AFFCF’s Keys to Success program, which empowers youth to make informed decisions about their future and build skills that will help them win in both career and life achievement

Aaron was 19 years old and living out of his car for almost a year, until it broke down and was towed. We met him after he’d been placed into a group home shortly thereafter. He told us that he didn’t graduate high school and hadn’t attended school in over a year.

Hard Knocks

He would wake up at 2 a.m. every day and take the bus to see if he could find any day labor work. Some days day there was work; some days there was not. To make matters worse, Aaron discovered someone used his identity to make thousands of dollars in purchases in his name.

Aaron needed help in so many areas of his life, and the Keys to Success program was ready to answer the call.

Aaron’s goals were to get enrolled into a GED program, find steady employment and remove the debt from his name. Like many other youths who aren’t quite ready to move forward, Aaron was struggling and stopped communicating and meeting with his Keys to Success team.

Ready to Go

A few months later, Aaron. reached back out to Becky Gutierrez, his career development specialist to let her know that his situation had gone from bad to worse. He left his group home and had nowhere to stay all over again. The Department of Child Safety had given Aaron an ultimatum: find a permanent residence, enroll in a GED program and find employment, or else his case would be closed. That meant he would lose all support and resources.

Immediately Becky jumped into action, submitting an application to the Foster Arizona housing program. Aaron was able to move into his own place a few days later.

Becky also helped him reengage with his GED program and provided a laptop for his classes. A day after moving into his new place, Aaron began his GED classes. To date, he has passed his social studies GED exam and took his language arts exam.

“I’m so proud of Aaron and all that he has accomplished in a short time…Even though he’s gone through so much in his life, he’s working hard to reach his goals.”

Becky Gutierrez, Keys to Success Career Development Specialist

Finding a Job

With stable housing and education trending in the right direction, Aaron began meeting with his employment development specialist, Rina Grocke, to create a resume and work on employment development. To help him find stable employment, he received a new phone to contact employers, a bus pass, work clothing, a new haircut and a gift card for groceries until he received his first paycheck. Aaron received a job offer and began his new job, just a few weeks ago.

The only immediate problem that needed to be tackled was the fraudulent debt in Aaron’s name. Becky enlisted the help of John, the Keys to Financial Success instructor, to find out the steps he needed to clear his credit. Working together, they were able to clear the fraudulent debt from Aaron’s credit report, no longer requiring him to pay the money.

“I’m so proud of Aaron and all that he has accomplished in a short time,” said Becky. “Even though he’s gone through so much in his life, he’s working hard to reach his goals.’

Aaron continues to work and loves his apartment through Foster Arizona. His goal is to complete all of his GED exams by June!

We All Win

Making a contribution to Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation is a win-win. You win by earning a credit on your Arizona state taxes. Individuals can contribute up to $500 and joint filers can contribute up to $1,000 and receive a dollar-for-dollar credit on their taxes. Young men and women in our Keys to Success program, like Aaron, win when they are supported in their education and employment goals.

You can contribute through May 17, 2021 and count it toward your 2020 taxes. Please consider making a gift today to support our life-changing work.

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