Cameron Corbert was adopted at a young age. He became very close to his adoptive father, whom he describes as his best friend, mentor, and one of the best people he ever met. The father passed away when Cameron was a teenager, after his adoptive mother passed away years earlier. The losses were devastating for Cameron, who was put in custody of the Massachusetts Department of Children & Families and moved to various group homes. He attended seven different high schools.
“It was very disruptive,” Cameron said. “It was hard to stay close to people and I felt cut off. It was hard to pay attention at school because I knew I would be moving soon.”
After aging out of DCF Cameron was homeless for five years, living on the streets, making friends with the wrong kind of people and getting into trouble. He signed back into DCF and was accepted into a pre-independent living program, but wasn’t ready to accept the help and support he needed; he didn’t know how to trust people, the result of all the disruptions in his life and the experience of living on the street.
A housing counselor found Cameron a job at the Breaktime Café, which led him to CWS and the Double Impact Initiative. At CWS Cameron found support and encouragement, and an important mentor in Chef Gregg.
“I don’t think I would have stayed in the job if it wasn’t for Chef Gregg,” Cameron said. “It was hard but he filled me with motivation and determination, and made me want to come to work every day. I don’t know where I would be today without CWS.”
Cameron became a youth advocate, helping other homeless youth who are seeking direction just as he had. “I came into this program with a very open mind,” he said. “If I’m in a new learning environment I always try to get something out of it, either life skills or general information, and I try to learn and adapt.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the CWS Double Impact Initiative with Breaktime began preparing meals for first responders and food-insecure participants in Boston-area communities in crisis. Cameron became a program supervisor—he worked really hard, and the position that has turned into a fulltime job! He duties as a supervisor include driving a delivery truck, scheduling deliveries, doing errands for other supervisors and taking over shifts if other workers are absent.
Cameron has a housing voucher, but as he works to overcome his trust issues he prefers not to live with a roommate, and is staying with a friend until he can find his own apartment.
Cameron is in a good place right now. He is working at CWS as Youth Outreach Coordinator. He feels very fortunate to have had mentors in his life, and has prioritized helping others and giving back, which was how his dad lived his life. Cameron’s message to other youth who are homeless or struggling is to stay positive, and avoid the mind blocks that prevent you from seeking out a better life “For me to get out of my homeless situation I had to get out of my comfort zone. I had food, friends and different places to stay when I was homeless, but most of my friends were gangsters and bad things happened. You should never get comfortable in the streets or in a shelter. I understand how you can feel comfortable and supported around others who are in the same situation, but you have to expect more out of life and work hard to get it.”