SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Some former foster children have returned to the Polinsky Children’s Center in San Diego to help those who are experiencing the trials and tribulations that they went through growing up.
Jonathan Barbosa said, "I want to become a social worker."
Barbosa explained to ABC 10News that he is on the right track to achieve that goal despite some very challenging times during his childhood.
"I had thoughts that I really wouldn't be anything in life, really wouldn't go far,” he said.
The youngest of four children, Barbosa told of being physically and emotionally abused by a family member, and later by a family friend.
"He threatened us, myself and my sister, telling us to not say a word, not to say anything, or else the same thing will happen to us," Barbosa recounted, referring to that family friend. "Keep in mind, I was 10 years old. I was afraid. I didn't know what to do. So, I kept my mouth shut."
But Barbosa said another sibling was not so quiet about what was happening. And eventually, by court order, Barbosa said they were taken to the haven of the Polinsky Children’s Center in San Diego, until other family stepped forward.
"After that, my grandparents had a big enough heart to take all of us in," Barbosa said.
While safe with his grandparents, Barbosa said he dealt with lingering anger and despair.
"I grew up hating the world. I grew up hating everything,” he said.
But positive forces were at work.
Along with his grandparents, social workers remained involved, including a man named Angel, who had been a foster kid himself and was then part of the Promises2Kids program at the Polinsky Center, becoming a mentor to Barbosa.
"He was essentially like a brother to me," said Barbosa. "He was the one who pushed me through high school. He was the one who motivated me to get my diploma."
Now, Barbosa is in college and serving as a mentor to others.
"My goal is to show them that I can be their friend. Show them I can be that shoulder they can lean on," said Barbosa. "And to be that person that will essentially give them that extra push. Because I believe that they can achieve anything."
Barbosa said he's presently keeping in touch with seven foster youth about twice a month, helping them realize their potential.
Meanwhile, he's continuing his studies as he prepares to transfer to San Diego State University to pursue his goal of becoming a counselor.