Charles Weeden's memories of growing up are not pleasant. But those memories have helped Charles become a successful Family-Teacher® for Boys Town New England.
The second oldest of four siblings, he remembers the Department of Children Youth and Families (DCYF) being monitoring him, his mother, father and siblings since he was approximately six years of age due to parental concerns of suspected abuse and neglect. At just nine years old, Charles found his mother, who battled alcoholism and mental health issues, dead in their home.
When Charles' father passed away when he was 12, he was left with the guilt that maybe his father's death was his fault. He constantly questioned himself with “Did I not wake up or get to my father quick enough to care for his needs?"
A family friend, who Charles refers to as his uncle, served as a mentor to him as he made the transition from middle school to high school. His uncle recognized Charles was a good student and encouraged him to take the PSAT exam and apply to Portsmouth Abbey School, a Benedictine boarding school in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. With his uncle's guidance, Charles received a full scholarship to board at the school.
“I received the spiritual, rational, and consistent concrete advice I needed from my uncle. He also held me accountable," Charles said.
High school is where Charles' world changed. As a senior, he became a house parent guiding the incoming freshmen students.
“It was transformative in my learning how to interact, and it made me aware of why I do some of the things I do," Charles said.
After graduating from high school, Charles was given the opportunity to travel to Rome and received a full scholarship to study at Georgetown University, in Washington, DC.
After completing his studies in Psychology with a focus on Theology at Georgetown, Charles said having been in care, he felt obligated to give back to his community. He worked for Child and Family Services in Rhode Island for a few years before becoming employed as an Assistant Family-Teacher® at Boys Town's Portsmouth campus.
Today he is a Family Teacher in a Boy's Town Family Home, where he serves six adolescents, along with his wife, Sheena, and their two-year-old daughter, Sophie.
“I have the ability to connect with Boys Town youth on a level where I can tell my story and assure them there is a better path out," he said. “It's an ongoing path. Your situation is not hopeless. It can get better. I validate their feelings, but I also provide a sense of hope."
He strongly believes in Boys Town's straightforward teaching model that prepares children with social skills to take into the world, whether that be reunification with their parents, going to college, or living independently on their own.
Charles is now focused on being a good husband and father to his growing family while helping Boys Town youth.