A single birthday present, a crumpled dollar bill, when I was a homeless child, changed my life forever. Steve and Linda, my foster parents, had eight other Black foster children when they took me in. Steve always made me feel special, and they all treated us like family. “Dylan, you’re just as good as anyone else,” he would frequently remark.

My original parents removed me from Steve and Linda when I became five years old. Steve gave me a dollar bill and added, “There’s a special message written on this bill for you before I leave.” Never let it go. My biological parents left me in a park two years later.

I was seven years old, scared and alone, I vowed to myself, “No more orphanages.” You’re going to succeed by yourself. A homeless man named Jacob taught me to read and write when I was living on the streets. “Dylan, you’ve got to learn this,” he would always tell me. This is your exit strategy.
When I came upon that dollar bill again years later, I saw Steve’s message, which said, “You are my son and always will be.” You will succeed with it, but you must have confidence in yourself. That message sparked something within of me again.

I worked nonstop until Mr. Brown, an elderly guy, offered me a job. He helped me find my way to success as a mentor. I eventually went back to my foster parents and handed the $1 bill to Steve. “Perhaps it’s not the dollar but you,” he remarked with a smile.


succeeded because of my resiliency and self-confidence.

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