Many years ago, I was part of an abusive household, an environment that no child should have to endure. At 16 years old, I found myself homeless with no real place to call home. I got into a physical altercation with my dad which led me to move in with a friend. Eventually my friend’s mother called authorities and I was placed in a group home in the foster care system where I was at least getting three meals a day and some type of structure that gave me purpose to concentrate on my future. My group home supervisor suggested I enlist in the military. While it was a rough transition, it was still an overall learning experience for me.

I often look back at my foster care experience of being placed and it undoubtedly redirected the trajectory of my adult life. Though I still had challenges of overcoming the effects of not having a stable childhood and abusive upbringing, I eventually came to a realization that my childhood trauma would not be an excuse to fail in my life’s journey. With my openness to forgive folks in my past and my determination to work hard to be successful, I found my childhood to be a strength I could draw from.

I always knew that at some point in my life I wanted to give back to foster children who endured similar situations that I did. Kids are placed in the foster care system through no fault of their own and I felt they needed someone like me to show empathy for them. I wanted to be that person who can listen to their challenges and frustrations without judging or being overly directive. I connect with foster youth because I understand how they feel. Even though they’re coming from an abusive environment, it’s still their family. I’m here to give some depth, be a listener and a friend.

Since I started with Promises2Kids, my life has taken on a new meaning and now feels complete. I now have a lovely wife of 28 years, 6 fantastic children, and 10 grandchildren. Added to this blessing, spending time with Promises2kids and the children that I engage with is one of the most important priorities in my life. My time volunteering at Promises2Kids contributes to my happiness and satisfaction with what I am doing here on this earth! I am truly blessed to be part of such a calling and for that I am forever grateful.

Lee Otto