Daniel Stays on Track During Pandemic

By Trent Freeman, Director of Marketing & Communications

A senior at West Valley High School in Spokane, Daniel has always looked forward to returning to school after summer vacation and spring break.

He admitted to having a touch of senioritis this year before the pandemic started and is anxious to graduate and start his adult life. But for someone who loves math, science and band where he plays baritone, being away from school has been difficult.

“It is very unfortunate,” Daniel said. “I was talking to my foster mom when I first heard about the coronavirus, and I told her: ‘I bet that it’s going to get real bad, real soon.’ ”

Daniel has always had good grades and is completing his assignments online as he works toward graduation. It’s not the same. Still, he’s adapted.

“Daniel never stops impressing me,” said Marilyn Nelson, his Graduation Success Coordinator at Treehouse. “He has had three caregiver placements this year and continues to move forward through this crisis, just like he always does. He thinks about what the next step is and stays right on track.”

The next step after high school for Daniel is becoming an electrician. He plans to start with an apprenticeship.

“I found my passion last year in physics,” Daniel said. “We were working with circuits, and all of the time I was doing it, I was like this is so much fun.”

Daniel and his younger sister have been in foster care together since they were little.

“He has a great relationship with his sister and is very protective of her,” Marilyn said. “It’s really sweet.”

Before the pandemic, Daniel worked at Krispy Kreme. He revealed that he received a minimum of three and up to six free donuts per shift “depending on who the manager was.”

He’d often take home donuts to his foster family and sister. The siblings found themselves living apart for the first time ever earlier this year and are now back together. Daniel speaks highly of their latest placement.

In his free time, he enjoys mountain biking and saved his money to recently purchase a very special bike—a testament to his goal setting and planning.

Music will always be a huge part of Daniel’s life, and he’s learning to play another instrument: piano. He’s also bilingual, and last year participated in a two-day pilgrimage to learn about the Snoqualmie Tribe in conjunction with Hutton Settlement Children’s Home.

“He’s so intelligent, and he’s really level headed,” Marilyn said. “He’s just an exceptional kid who is going to go far.”

Daniel and Marilyn (pictured above) used to meet weekly each Monday at school. They’re now staying in touch through phone calls and texts.

“Treehouse helps me sustain myself. If I ever need something, they’re always there for me, which I appreciate,” Daniel said. “I’m really thankful for Treehouse and Marilyn. I love Marilyn so much. She has been so helpful throughout the last year and has been a very important part in my life.”

Support Treehouse as we partner with youth in foster care to weather the pandemic. Make a gift at treehouseforkids.org/donate.

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About the Author

Trent Freeman is the Director of Marketing & Communications at Treehouse. He is passionate about storytelling as a tool to drive positive change for youth in foster care.

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