“Education was my way out of poverty.” This was a truth that 42-year-old Amazon executive David Ambroz held on to while living in the streets of New York City as a young child.
Because of a mentally ill mother, David and his two siblings had to sleep in public places, churches, and shelters. They had nowhere to live and were always filthy and starving. They had to beg for money so they could buy something to eat.
Growing up, David had to use fast-food restaurant bathrooms to take a bath and beg at the Grand Central Station, where wealthy commuters paid him no attention.
He recalled that whether he got to eat or not was determined by the generosity of strangers, on whether someone would give him a dollar.
David knew that this was no way to live, and he was determined to climb out of this sad and difficult situation no matter what.
It wasn’t until he turned 12 that his life started to change for the better. After living on the streets and just trying to survive, David entered foster care and was eventually taken in by a loving family who would give him a safe and stable life.
He learned to read through the literacy programs of public libraries, but he persevered and entered high school to receive a better education.
His hard work paid off when he got a grant to study abroad. While in Spain, he completed his high school credits and went full steam ahead in rebuilding his life.
His learning stint in Spain proved pivotal as it helped him get into Vassar College. Still, it wasn’t a walk in the park for David as he had to balance school work and maintain his grade with his multiple jobs. This was also the time when he had personal issues regarding his sexuality.
But David’s star was on the rise because he also landed a coveted internship at the White House that helped build his career.
Eventually, he was accepted to the UCLA School of Law, where he later obtained his Juris Doctor degree.
Shortly after that, David landed a job at ABC’s legal and business affairs department, working on Disney TV’s corporate social responsibility and philanthropic efforts.
This is also where he met and worked with some of the world’s most famous and influential people. More importantly, it allowed him to influence storytelling on Disney TV’s networks. Just last year, David moved to Amazon, where he currently works as the head of external affairs.
But David admits that despite all the success that he has achieved in his life, it wasn’t easy letting go of the ‘shame’ of homelessness. It was decades of trauma, and he also spent decades coming to terms with the effects of this trauma.
But eventually, David turned this trauma and ‘shame’ into power and became one of the most well-known advocates for foster care.
In fact, David is a foster parent himself to pay it forward and give foster kids the same opportunities he was given when he was younger.
David is forever grateful to the people who helped him change the trajectory of his life and achieve his dreams. Without those ‘rare angels’ like his foster mom Holly, he wouldn’t be where he is today.
He knows that not everyone will be able to foster or adopt a child, but everyone can help raise awareness and care about the plight of these kids.
It’s hard to imagine someone so confident, successful, and influential came from such a troubled and challenging childhood. But David is living proof that your past doesn’t define your future.
With hard work, grit, and little bit of good luck, David and his siblings were able to beat the odds, build successful careers, and have happy and loving families.
He’s happy and proud that he was able to turn his life around, which not many foster kids can do. This is why he’s working hard to advocate child welfare and reform the system that made it hard for him and his family to get out of poverty for years.
As a way to give back, he co-founded FosterMore, a program that offers foster care services, opportunities, and resources.
He’s also sharing more of his incredible story in his memoir A Place Called Home, which will be released on September 13.
With this book, David hopes to inspire people enough to do something for the millions of people in the country who are living in poverty. ‘They need our help, our attention, and more than anything, for us to take action,’ David said.
If you want to learn more about David’s incredible story, watch the video below: