Branden Getchell found himself in a number of foster homes as a child where he was separated from his four siblings and shuffled through a number of school districts. It wasn’t until he found stability in his final foster home and met strong mentors that he was able to prepare for and seize so many life altering opportunities. Here he shares why he’s running the 2016 Boston Marathon for Silver Lining Mentoring.
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A poignant moment in my journey to adulthood came when I was 13 years old. I was failing all of my classes and on the cusp of being held back in the eighth grade. By this time, I’d already been shuffled through a number of different foster homes and school districts. The thought of being separated from my siblings, again, and having to sleep in another bed that was not my own, was nauseating. I found myself dragging my feet toward another police cruiser putting on show for all of my friends and neighbors to see. I met another social worker who bounced me around to a few placements, before I found the place I call home today.
When I arrived at the Tolson household, my siblings and I had only the clothes on our back and the items our social worker instructed us to pack for the weekend. The Tolsons were newly registered foster parents taking in youth on short-term emergency basis. As it became apparent that our stay would not be short, my two younger siblings were forced to move to another home and my older brother opted into a different foster home in order to stay within the school district we grew up in.
I on the other hand was faced with one of the toughest decisions of my life at 13 years old; the decision to stay with the Tolsons or to leave and stay within my comfort zone.
Realizing all the Tolsons had done for me thus far and heading great advice from my elders, I easily made one of the best decisions of my entire life and stayed. The Tolsons did for me what addiction prohibited my parents from doing; they allowed me to realize that my capabilities far outweigh my realities.
Statistics will tell you that someone with my upbringing should have an extensive criminal record, I should be unemployed or working to achieve minimum wage, have a few unplanned kids and have zero education. Because of the love and support of the family that accepted me as their own, I can proudly say that I have zero criminal record, am gainfully employed, have no children and was fortunate enough to graduate from Boston College within four years.
As I contemplated my final decision to stay or leave the Tolsons, the one thing that stuck in my head was how hard they worked to ensure that I completed whatever work I needed to do so that I would not get kept back in the eighth grade. I knew that if I stayed with them, they would not allow me to be held back in life and for that, I am forever thankful and indebted to them.