Bryan James, a 20 year old Transitional Living Program (TLP) client and a Project Visible Man (PVM) participant, entered the foster care system at the age of seven. Often shifting in and out of group homes, James struggled in school and at home. At the age of 19, he moved in with Gerald Hamilton, a long time UCAN professional foster parent who is a former police officer. Calling this phase in his life a turning point, James explained what it meant to him to live there, “I learned a lot from him; he’s been through it all. He’s been on the streets and then became a top cop. I am still in touch with him, and he’s like a mentor and great male role model for me.”
In 2011, James was shot in the leg when walking home. “It was unexpected and scary, and I was shocked.” James explains that he still has regular nightmares of the shooting but that his associations with both PVM and family helped him overcome the trauma. “Having family around makes you realize that you have something to live for. When I’m around Fred, Claude and the PVM guys, it helps to take me out of that state of mind… [PVM] is fun, and helps you prepare for life.”
James recently spoke at an event for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, where he shared his personal story and received a special birthday wish from the Mayor himself. “It felt good to celebrate another year of my life,” James said.
James, who has a three week old son, recently obtained his GED in January 2012 and is looking for employment close to his TLP home. “I have to look after my son and his mother, and am looking to join the Navy. I want to continue my education and I would love the opportunity to travel.”