May is National Foster Care Month, leaving 31 designated days to honor individuals and families who have committed to caring for a child when their biological parent can't.
For one Waterbury man, the bond with his foster mother was strong enough to pull him off of the wrong path and help him set his sight on success.
Dyshawn Jones works full time and has one semester left at Post University, but his now bright future didn't always look that way.
"I felt that I would never be happy, with a family," Jones said, adding that when he was young his father was in jail and he witnessed one of his mother's boyfriends kill his baby sister, and then was beaten and taken away from his mom and sent to foster care.
After he was sent to 14 different foster homes, he was dropped off on a curb one day, and he didn't know what would happen next, until Maude Pendarvis came into his life.
"I said you don't have to tell people you're in foster care. You're in, this is your family, if you choose it," Pendarvis said is what she told Jones, and her attitude of family first, no-nonsense, patience and understanding spurred a change.
"When I felt like one of her own, it was like 'wow, I think this is where I want to be,'" Jones said, adding that in his rebellious stage he rode with a gang and sold drugs, but Pendarvis didn't give up on him.
"I told him, 'I'm here to save you, I'm not going to see you caught up in the street,'" Pendarvis said.
Jones spent seven years, through high school graduation, with Pendarvis, whom he now calls his grandmother.
Jones and Pendarvis were connected by the Boys and Girls Village, which helped connect 5,000 youths and families in the state.
"Maude is a prime example of what we're looking to do. Connect kids with long life, family ties," said Carra Conlan, of Boys and Girls Village.
Both Jones and Pendarvis said foster families know the bond among them isn't blood, but love. Jones' family continues to grow even more since he and his wife are expecting their first child.
"I'm actually looking forward to being what my father really wasn't to me. I want to be all that I can be toward my child. I want to be the best father, ever. I want to give my son everything that I didn't have," Jones added.
Boys and Girls Village said the need for foster parents is greater than ever. If you're interested in learning more about foster parenting click here.
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