Placed into foster care at birth, Demetrius came to us after his adoptive family decided they could no longer care for him. After the death of his mother seven years earlier, never knowing his father, and now the rejection of the family who had adopted him, he was back in the system at the age of 13. The trauma and loss of his young life had wounded him deeply and he began to act out, leading to continued rejection from foster homes and a short stint in juvenile detention. All told, he has lived in over 30 foster homes. Moving from home to home, “I felt like an object being passed around,” Demetrius confides. “People kept going in and out of my life. I just felt lonely. I would cry every night.”
His Edwin Gould social worker, Toni Ince, was always there for him. From coming to his home in the morning to ensure he got to school to cheering him on when times were toughest, she continued to believe in him. And Demetrius finally began to believe in himself.
By January of 2013, Demetrius had become a minor celebrity at Edwin Gould. He joined several other youth in care to ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange and launch the Jamel Robinson Child Welfare Initiative, Inc. ‘We Deserve Love Too’ campaign.
In June that year Demetrius graduated with honors and received New York City’s Chancellor’s Award for Remarkable Achievement. At the Tweed Courthouse ceremony, Demetrius had the opportunity to meet former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Now on full scholarship at St. John’s University, Demetrius credits Toni for never giving up on him and inspiring him along the way. He dreams of going to law school and becoming a judge, stating, “Imagine when I become a judge, after all that I’ve been through, kids in the same situation can look up to me and say, ‘If Demetrius Johnson, can make it, why can’t I?’” Demetrius adds, “I am beginning to pay forward the love and support that I have received from Ms. Ince and the Agency by mentoring young boys who are in the foster care and the justice systems, and showing them, by my actions, that no matter what the challenge or hardship, they can make it through.”
Demetrius continues to inspire, most recently speaking on a panel at Kings County Family Court’s Teen Day in October. Read the article on Brooklyn Eagle.
He has also let us know that he is now slated to speak in Albany early in 2015.