Humbly answering the call to inspire and uplift our nation’s foster children, Capri Cruz shares her life story with Nicki Sanders, The Teen Toolbox Founder. Looking at her life today, you would never guess the humble beginnings of this motivational speaker and two-time author. Capri Cruz began her life in the projects of New York City but moved to Virginia after her parent’s separated. She entered foster care at seven years old. During the six years that Capri Cruz was in foster care she was in nine different homes. She lived with one family that was very dear to her heart from the ages of ten to twelve. At age thirteen, her father moved her back to New York to live with her paternal grandfather. Capri lived in fear for two years as she was abused and locked up by her grandfather. At the end of that second year, Capri met a guy who helped her run away from her grandparent’s home. After dropping out of school and various short-term stays with friends and a boyfriend, Capri and her brother agreed to move to St. Thomas. When Capri called her former foster mother to say goodbye, she was invited to return to the family in Virginia in order to graduate high school.
At seventeen years old, Capri had re-entered foster care in Virginia and re-enrolled in high school. Although she still had another year of high school, Capri was asked to leave her foster home when she turned 18 because she was not following the house rules. She moved from friend’s home to friend’s home before moving in with her foster sister and graduating high school.
After high school graduation Capri joined the Navy. She was estranged from her biological family and had never processed any of the traumas she had experienced in her young life. Capri knew she didn’t want to be in the Navy but she wanted to flee her current circumstances and needed a job and a place to live. Her misery led to self-medication.
Capri had a very productive career in the military. She had also been attending college while serving her country. The age of 30 ushered in a time of growth and self-discovery. Capri was introduced to self-help books intended to help her take control of her life. The books her brother recommended allow her to begin to “retrain her brain to think in a healthier way”. The books were making an impact but the changes did not happen overnight. At age 37, Capri ran away from a fight with abusive live-in boyfriend because she no longer wanted her daughter to live in a negative environment. When she returned the next day and ordered him to leave the home, he refused. Determined to live a better life, Capri sold her home and moved away without telling him where she was going. She took the time to renew and develop herself. She stopped drinking and began to set healthy standards and boundaries for herself and her relationships. At age 40 Capri retired from the Navy with a Master’s degree and a plan for life. She bought real estate and began to write her second book. She describes her first book which was written while she was in the military as “negative: full of pain and anger”. Knowing this was not the message she wanted to express, she was inspired to write a new book.
This period of self-awareness led to the autobiographical self-help book for children in foster care called “From Foster Care to Fabolous: An Imperative Movement”. Like many foster youth, she had never been taught planning and organization skills and did not have any goals early in her life. Capri described the spiritual transformation that took place when she found God in her thirties. She believes that God led her to write her book and is developing it into a national movement. Her book is filled with lessons learned about self-love, healing, and living courageously.
Capri has learned to make conscious decisions instead of living haphazardly. Her priority is to not only leave a positive legacy for her daughter and (future) grandchildren but to leave a strong legacy for future generations. To that end, Capri spends most of her free time working toward the completion of her PhD in Counseling Studies and encouraging her daughter through her own collegiate endeavors.
Capri is a strong advocate for counseling who believes that counseling should be mandatory for all children who enter foster care. She states, “Children who are struggling with the trauma of unstable living arrangements and possibly neglect and abuse need a consistent trusting relationship with a professional in order to help them process and understand their emotions and reactions”. She supports youth in foster care as a public speaker with her local family services agency. She is a mental health and substance abuse counselor by trade and a Certified Life Coach. She is taking “From Foster to Fabulous: An Imperative Movement” national to get her book into the hands of as many children in foster care as possible.
Capri is a true success story — living proof that with encouragement foster children can grow up to achieve every goal they create.
As we host our 6th Annual PACK A PURSE DRIVE™ in December 2012, we will use the Teen Toolbox blog as a platform to spread inspiration and hope by highlighting the triumphs of successful women foster care alumni.
Nicki Sanders, MSW, Chief Visionary Officer
The Teen Toolbox provides youth portfolio development and civic engagement and academic empowerment strategies to help teens set goals for life after high school and create a road map to reach those goals through its PACKAGED FOR SUCCESS™ Programs. We are committed to supporting and raising awareness about the needs and potential of teenagers in the foster care system.