TRIBECA, Manhattan (WABC) -- A former foster child opened an art gallery thanks to help he received through Foster Pride when he was younger. He's now paying it forward to others.
"So the water goes up and cycles back down," said Onyedika Chuke, artist, and owner of the Storage Art Gallery.
Chuke showed off a fountain made by his student. He is an art and business professor at Columbia University and owns a gallery in TriBeCa.
It's been a long journey for someone who was once a child going through the foster care system.
"So age 11, housing projects, you get like bangs on the door. The cops come in. It's the four of us, they just come in, put you in a paddy wagon," Chuke said.
He was separated in Far Rockaway, Queens, from his sisters, shifting from foster homes in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn to the Bronx.
"Somewhere through that, I started making more art. It sort of became a way of seeing myself through," Chuke said.
He found Foster Pride at age 17.
The non-profit gives current and past foster kids a chance to express themselves and earn a living through art.
The group helped him graduate from Cooper Union College.
While homeless, the school gave him $5,000 to open his first of three art galleries.
"So I took that, went to the Bronx to this warehouse, renovated the warehouse," Chuke said.
His journey and triumph still touch him today.
"Do you feel artwork saved you," Eyewitness News asked.
"Yeah, in many ways," Chuke said. "I think so."
Lynn Schnurnberger is the founder and executive director of Foster Pride.
"To see someone like Onyedika achieve what he achieved now is why you do it," Schnurnberger said.
Chuke's reach goes beyond the walls inside his gallery. His work inspires other members of Foster Pride.
"They helped me with preparing with the college process and SATs," Radiya Aheto, Foster Pride.
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