By Marla Carter
HOUSTON (KTRK) — Just last year alone, 179 youth in Harris County aged out of the foster care system. From there, it can be a difficult journey to transition into adulthood but there are programs aimed to help, and one of those programs has led to a life-long friendship for Shane Cravens and Mark Newcomer.
When Cravens was just 2 years old, he and his young siblings were left in a motel room. Since then, he’s had 19 placements in the foster care system.
“As I got older and I continued to be in that position, it was kind of rough. The fact of missing out on certain family activities that most kids get to have,” he said.
But Cravens is tenacious. He stayed focused, graduated high school and enrolled in classes at Houston Community College.
Though he remained focused, he didn’t always have support.
“Support is hard to find when you go to a lot of different places,” he said.
Little did Cravens know he’d have more support than he could imagine. Mark Newcomer is a volunteer who helps teens transition from foster care out of the system
“They matched me with Shane and it was a perfect match. He’s a great kid,” said Newcomer.
Newcomer said there was something special about him.
“He’s easy to help. He’s appreciative,” said Newcomer.
“It’s been above and beyond with Mark. I wasn’t expecting it to be this great of an amazing friendship,” said Cravens.
Not only did Newcomer help him transition into life outside of the foster care system, but he has also taught him how to drive. He’s been there every step of the way.
“It’s every day, making sure I’m OK, making sure I’ve got food. It means a lot. It’s so amazing to have someone like that in my life,” said Cravens.
After 19 placements, Cravens feels at home. He has a new apartment, but could really use a car to get around. Newcomer started a GoFundMe to help him get a car and other expenses.
After all he’s been through, Cranves said he just wants to pay it forward. He’s devoting his life to helping others who may also struggle through difficult times. He’s studying psychology.
“My main focus was, I wanted to help people in the situation I’m in or maybe worse,” he said.
Cravens’ advice to others in the system: stay strong and be resourceful.
There are programs and resources out there to help. In fact, there are federal pandemic aid funds available to current and former foster youth.
The funds can be used to pay rent, tuition or phone bills, among other things. For those who are 21 and older, the application deadline is Sept. 30, 2021. Those who are 20 and younger have an additional year to apply, providing funds last.
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