“Good People” profiles everyday individuals who are bettering the lives of those in need and improving their communities.
Brooklyn native Guy Bryant has fostered more than 50 children and young adults in his Flatbush, N.Y., home. Bryant, whose nickname is “Pops,” says the most rewarding part of his vocation is seeing the young men he fosters persevere through hardship and grow into responsible and productive adults.
“There are just so many reasons kids come into care,” Bryant told In The Know. “Their parents are on drugs, the kids are taking care of themselves.
“It doesn’t mean that that parent doesn’t love their child,” he added. “It means that they can’t cope with their own issues.”
Bryant, who is currently employed by the City of New York’s Department of Social Services, had worked with children for the majority of his adult life but felt like he wasn’t doing enough to help them, until one day, a young man made him a heart-wrenching proposition.
“I had a young man on my caseload, and one day he asked me, Would I be his dad?” Bryant recalled. “I was like, ‘You know what? Why not.’ He had a friend who had some other type of emotional disturbance. I said, ‘All right, I’ll take your friend.'”
“I guess higher forces work in mysterious ways, because within three months, there were nine kids in my house; six of them from the agency and three of them that just wandered in.”
Bryant said he tries to take in older foster children who may need parental guidance they are unable to find anywhere else.
“It can be very rewarding if you become a foster parent to older kids,” he remarked. “You don’t foster them as long, but your relationships with them last longer because we are with them until adulthood.”
In order to keep his household running in tiptop shape, Bryant maintains a strict set of guidelines and rules that all his foster kids must follow.
“Structure is one of the most important things in a foster home,” he explained. “I charge for various things. If I have to make your bed, it’s maid service and you will pay $10. It goes along with time management. You have to manage enough time to make up your bed.”
John, a former foster child of Bryant’s, said the system taught him how to be responsible.
“I really appreciate that because I think he’s looking out for us,” he told In The Know. “I’m really glad I ended up at his house.”
Other youths living in Bryant’s Brooklyn home seem to feel equally as grateful.
“When I was going through in my other foster homes, it was a period of time where I was just wishing, ‘Is there ever going to be a home that I can grow in?'” Greg, a current foster child living with Bryant, said. “And moving here — it was like my prayers were answered.”
“I consider (Bryant) as family,” Rosario, another current foster child, added. “I call him ‘Pop’ for a reason. Everything my father’s supposed to be doing, he’s doing it, like, teaching me morals and anything I need to know that a grown man is supposed to teach his son.”
Bryant, who said he will take in almost any child, from “firestarters” to “sex offenders,” has had foster kids leave his home and go on to work at the United Nations and for airlines.
“Whatever you did before doesn’t mean that that’s how you’re going to continue in life,” he said. “The majority of my kids are productive individuals and you would never know that they grew up in foster care.”
The father-of-many said his unique living situation has left him with a large family that shares a unique “eternal bond.”
“They know that I’m here no matter what. And if I need them, I know they’re there,” he said. “I’m never a ‘former’ foster parent. At some point, I just become your parent, and the foster gets thrown away.”