When I first started working at YWP two years ago most people described me as shy, quiet, and a person who wasn’t able to accomplish much on my own. II was afraid to speak up for things that I knew I needed because I didn’t want to seem like I was complaining. People use to always tell me to just be satisfied with what I had, but how could I be satisfied with the things I had when I knew I deserved so much more? When I first started working at YWP I was a year from aging out of foster care. This was a time when I needed guidance and support but I was not really getting it. I didn’t feel like I could do anything or get anything done. Everyone around me was so outspoken and passionate about what they were doing and I felt out of place. I really felt like I could never make a change in my life or in the lives of my peers.
I have learned that I do not have to be loud to be an advocate. I can still be me and speak up for the things that I need and the things that are important to me. Since working as a Youth Advocate I have testified before the DC City Council and interviewed council members and DC agency directors and leadership staff. Being able to speak on issues and see the changes that follows excites me and pushes me to do more. I enjoy what I do; I love helping people.
A great example of how I have grown as an advocate is how I have advocated for program changes at the housing program where I live. I moved in last year and one of the major issues that I have faced was sexism; specifically sexual comments from staff members and security officers. At first, I was the type to overlook things like that; I would laugh off the sexual comments and just think that it was normal. Now, since being at YWP, I no longer overlook what is unacceptable. I made reports and explained to my peers who lived there that it was not ok for the men to speak to them that way. I have accomplish many things that involved my after care services, thanks to the help of YWP. YWP trains us to advocate for others, but a big part of being a voice for others is also speaking up for ourselves. After 4 months of living in my after care program, I found out that the residents were supposed to be receiving transportation stipends. When I called to asked why we were not getting them, the program staff seem to not know what I was talking about. I contacted the head of the after care program and that same night every resident had their stipend.
It feels good to know that my voice brings about change. One of the things I am most proud of is my relationship with the high school workers at YWP. They come to me for advice, homework help, or just someone to talk to when they are upset. During my internship at YWP, I was able to help a senior pay for her senior fees. By the end of May, I was able to help her raised enough money to pay for her fees as well as half of her sister’s senior fees. In the past when asked to help someone in this way, I felt that I could not do much. Now, I feel like I can accomplish anything this job ask me to do. YWP has a way of building confidence without you even realizing it. I can’t imagine being as quiet as everyone says I was. When all seemed lost, it was my family, the YWP family, who were there to encourage me, and now all I want to do in life is the same for others. The work I have done with YWP motivates me to become a Policy Analyst. I believe that my advocacy will lead me to create great change in the world and I can’t wait to see what is to come after I graduate!
"I have learned that I do not have to be loud to be an advocate. I can still be me and speak up for the things that I need and the things that are important to me. The work I have done at the Young Women's Project motivates me to become a Policy Analyst. I believe that my advocacy will lead me to create great change in the world and I can’t wait to see what is to come after I graduate!"