Derrick’s Story

NOTE: As of Feb. 29, 2024, Carolina Youth Development Center (CYDC) has rebranded to Landmarks for Families. Our nonprofit, community programs and residential services remain committed to cultivating thriving youth and families in this new chapter.

Your holiday gift helps CYDC make a difference in the lives of 1,200 youth and families annually, which includes providing a safe and secure environment and academic and job readiness support services to children in foster care who have suffered abuse or neglect.

Derrick (center, gray shirt), working with Freedom Church J: 127 volunteers and fellow Callen-Lacey kids to help decorate the shelter’s Christmas tree.

Children such as 17-year old Derrick, who came to CYDC’s Callen-Lacey Center for Children in January 2015 and is on track to graduate from Berkeley High School this June.

A victim of neglect, when Derrick arrived at Callen-Lacey, he had previously been living in a friend’s home he refers to as “grandma’s house.” He remembers that it took him a couple weeks to adjust to life in a group home staying with other kids of varying ages.

But with the support of staff, teachers and volunteer groups, Derrick has thrived. He has maintained exceptional grades while still working 10-15 hours a week at Subway. The work/school balance has been good for him so far and helped him learn about the importance of time management.

School success didn’t always come easy, but living in a safe, nurturing environment has allowed him to focus, study hard and exam cram when the need arises. Now he has dreams of going to college and has established career goals to work within the field of graphic design and computer software.

When staff talk about Derrick, they mention his smile and that he always tries to brighten up someone’s day. This might seem unusual for a child in foster care with no family support network who has faced tremendous adversity, but Derrick is adamant about projecting a positive, upbeat attitude.

Derrick engaging in a practice job interview with HR recruiter Lauren Brotherton of Aerotek at CYDC’s 2016 Leadership for Life Employment Fair.

“Whenever I was younger and growing up I had barely anyone to look up to,” recalls Derrick.

“I want to be someone’s hero.”

It’s our holiday wish to make all of our community’s children someone’s hero.

Please make a gift online of any amount this holiday season and help us continue providing a secure environment and academic and career readiness opportunities to children such as Derrick, who just need someone to believe in them and give them an opportunity to succeed.


The Board of Directors and staff of Carolina Youth Development Center

*Not his real namedonate-now-button-1024x452

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CYDC is now Landmarks for Families!

For more than 230 years, we have guided neighbors toward stronger, hopeful futures and now we’re evolving too. We’re grateful to enter this new chapter with you. Welcome to Landmarks for Families!