ATHENS, Ga. -- Damien Godfrey blends in at the University of Georgia’s campus. You wouldn’t know what he’s been through just by looking at him.
“I didn’t have a stable life. It was pretty all over the place. My family wasn’t the strongest,” he said.
Godfrey is just one of thousands of teens in Georgia who grew up in foster care, since the age of 7, moving from county to county to different foster homes.
“It made me the strongest person; it made me want to lead,” he said. “It made it happier and more confident in who I am.”
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The 18-year-old found a mentor on campus, April Farlow with Lydia’s Place. It’s a non-profit organization that helps college students at risk of becoming homeless.
Damien has permanent housing on campus but Lydia’s Place is there if he ever needs a helping hand.
“These students have overcome all odds - just to be here,” she said. “Some of them have lived on couches. Some of them come from different shelters - to be able to come here and focus only on their academics is extremely important.”
With more than 30,000 students enrolled at UGA, all from different counties, states and socio-economic backgrounds, Damien Godfrey says it’s hard to spot on a crowded sidewalk what struggles each student is facing.
“The things I went through don’t come from a place of pain,” he said. “They come from a place of empowerment. It’s almost weird to see people feel sad or bad for me.”
Lydia’s place says they want to help students get temporary housing if they’re at-risk by providing a fully-funded dorm room for them. And then, they want to help the students find a permanent place to stay.
Farlow says she wants to help because she sees their potential.
“We’ve been able to get enough baskets that we’re able to now start reaching students at other universities,” she said. “So, we’ll be able to reach out to them and let them know we exist as well.”
A helping hand for someone wanting a fresh start - and to make their dreams a reality.