At 14, Kalum found out that the woman who raised him, who he thought was his mother, was actually his cousin. Everybody in his family had known the truth—except for him.

“I felt betrayed, like I wasn’t really part of this family,” he said. “At such a young age, it’s really hard to take in something like that and process what it means for your life.”

Kalum was angry. He stopped caring about school. “I almost failed 9th and 10th grade,” he says. “I kept living with my family for a year, but we fought all the time. I ended up getting in a physical altercation with my biological mother. My face was completely swollen and the blood vessels in both eyes burst.”

Kalum stayed home from school for a month because his face was so battered. His school was concerned and called Child Protective Services. That’s when he was removed from his home and entered foster care.

Eventually, The Children’s Center was able to place Kalum in an independent living setting with a mentor named Mr. Arbuckle. Mr. Arbuckle became very involved in Kalum’s life and helped him get on the right track. “Mr. Arbuckle was like a dad to me. He helped me with school. He helped me save money and get a car. He helped me with a lot.”

Kalum is now 20 years old and is excited about his future. In the fall, he’s planning to attend Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College and will play point guard on the basketball team. He has dreams of getting a degree in criminal justice and working in the FBI one day.

When Kalum reflects on his experience, he has a tremendous amount of gratitude. “If I never went to Mr. Arbuckle’s, I wouldn’t think the way I think now. I live by this mantra: ‘There is always someone in a worse predicament than me.’ When I learned that, I stopped complaining and being angry about my situation, and began to succeed. What my family put me through is a big deal, but it’s not worth throwing my life away.”

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