“I was a hyperactive kid.”
Edwin Baez likes the gym, and he likes to draw.
“It’s therapeutic,” he explains. “It keeps my mind off everything else when I focus on painting.”
Originally from North Philadelphia, he has shuttled among foster homes and group homes because of an unstable home life.
Before coming to C.B. Community, he attended Kensington Urban High School, which has since merged into one bigger school with Kensington Business.
“I’d go into the school and leave. It’s like they didn’t care what you did,” he said of that experience. “When I did stay in school, I was in the hallways. They kicked me out of there.”
Baez was 11 or 12 when he was taken from his mother, whose name he has tattooed on his arm.
“She wasn’t neglecting us or anything. The judge didn’t want her smoking and us being there,” he said, referring to himself and his sister. “He wanted her to get clean. She just came home from jail. She’s doing better.”
His saga in foster care includes being sent away.
“I kept moving through. Nobody wanted to keep me,” he said – even his grandmother, who said he tried to run away.
“I was a hyperactive kid. I didn’t care what nobody said. I didn’t have no structure. That’s when I went to the group home,” then to an aunt’s house. But when his sister went “on the run” from the Department of Human Services, he joined her.
“When she left, I left,” he said. “We never came back. We was on the run a couple months. Just being out on the streets.” They generally had a place to stay, he said. Finally, DHS caught up with him, and he went back to a group home.
The one constant through this period was C.B. Community, which helped DHS try to find him.
“The difference between this school and other schools is like, education-wise, they help you more,” Baez said. “They’re able to focus on you more. It’s more support. Even besides the education part, if there are family issues, they’re always here to help. If you have any problems, they’re always here.
“I got in trouble. They made me come back. … I knew they wanted to help me. I know there’s only so much they can do. They try.”
Now he is trying to focus on getting his diploma. He thinks he may be able to graduate in June 2019 if he works hard at it.
“I got to get an education and become something in life,” he said. He has his eye on going to a trade school and opening his own business as a mechanic. Or maybe an electrician.
On his 18th birthday in November, the staff took him to get his ID.
He allows himself a smile. “C. B. Community helps with our needs better. It’s a smaller school,” he said. As far as he’s concerned, “this is probably the best school in Philly.”