It’s this message of hope Trystan Gangi tries to instill in all 15 of the people he coaches through the New Alternatives program.
“I hope to empower the power of the individual and the hopefulness to have them realize that they are resilient despite wherever they may come from,” said Gangi.
Now aged out of the foster care system, Gangi acts as a friend, a guide, a mentor, and often a sounding board for many who feel they have no other shoulders to lean on.
“That just shows how lonely the process can be,” said Gangi.
Gangi would know, entering the foster care system himself at 14. He uses his shared experience to inspire his mentees, making them realize they have the ability to carve out the rest of their lives without limits.
“I just felt like he related to me more and was more understanding about where I was coming from growing up,” Kitana Tagorea commented. She is one of Gangi 15 mentees.
“Just because you’ve experienced X, Y, and Z in your past, doesn’t mean that that has to be your future,” said Gangi.
For Gangi and for most kids in foster care it’s an uphill battle. According to the National Foster Youth Institute roughly only 3% of foster care youth move on to higher education and only 1% actually obtain a college degree. Many more fall into drugs and homelessness.
“It’s definitely difficult to break the cycle when you don’t know a different norm…I definitely think education is what saved me,” said Gangi.
Gangi earned his master's degree in social work and found a family in his Zeta Beta Tau fraternity brothers. It was during college he learned how important it is to not only have a support system during the hard times but also someone to call to celebrate every success. He knew helping those who had passed through the system was where he needed to be.
“If you can make an impact in one person’s life, that would literally be what my job’s goal would be to do. I can’t “save everybody”. I’m not looking to save anyone. I’m just hoping to make life a little bit more enjoyable,” said Gangi.
No matter what the final destination is, Gangi is there to support in any way he can. Taking pride in what each of them has made for themselves.
“I’m proud of my degree, my education. But I’m most proud of owning that title as being a former foster care youth,” said Gangi.
For fostering strength in those who stand alone, Trystan Gangi is our New Yorker of the Week.
For more information visit https://www.fairfuturesny.org/