In this installment of the DCFYI Digest, we sat down with Marquis to discuss the impact the DCFYI community has had on his life.
DCFYI: How did you found out about DCFYI?
Marquis: So, I was in foster care and when I was growing up, I was alone a lot. I came across my caseworker, and they mentioned that I can get a mentor. After they set me up with the system and Susan, I've been with DCFYI ever since. I wasn't really outgoing or knew places to go that would be fun. I didn't care about how I looked or to even celebrate my own birthday, because sometimes people forget about that, and they'd be so stressed out. Even now, I just had a recent birthday, and I still couldn’t celebrate it because of other things. DCFYI has a birthday party once a year. So, I take advantage of that. It helps a lot. It’s easier for me to talk with people now than it was before, because before I didn't really like talking to people and I was trying to do other things. I wasn't really trying to do anything serious, and I wasn't worried about socializing. I was more worried about talking to girls and being a young and immature boy. I grew out of that and thank God because, I don't know if I could have kept living that way. I had to learn a couple of lessons throughout the group and dealing with different peers.
DCFYI: Can you tell me more about your mentor?
Marquis: Girard is my mentor. Girard and I met a very long time ago, around 2018. He took me on my first trip, and it was to IFly. It was just me and him and I got to fly in a tube. I was very excited about the whole experience and had a chance to get outside of my bubble. Now, Girard was in the military. I respect the man a lot. I took the ASVAB because of him and if I had come a week earlier, I would have had got in with the score I had, but I was 12 points down from getting in. I have a lot of problems with trying to get back and forth and Girard helped me a few times getting a bike for me and helping me realize which bike to pick. He helped me out with that a lot. When we have our sit downs and talks, he’s got a lot to say and there’s a lot to learn from him. Our first couple of activities were very nice. Girard and I have a really great connection. Girard is very helpful, actually, the whole program. He definitely helped me realize when no means no, no means no. I learned a lot of life lessons when it comes to Girard. Girard has been with me since I've been dealing with foster care and drama with the foster parents and the relationships and the drama. There’s just so much and he’s helped me out with that. He's been very patient with me, with that, too.
DCFYI: That’s great. And how often do you and your mentor talk?
Marquis: We actually just recently met up. We do that maybe once a week or so. I just recently saw him not too long ago; I think it was Monday. We met up about jobs. He's helping me find jobs, sign up for programs that pay and stuff like that.
DCFYI: What do you like most about DCFYI?
Marquis: I think the best part of the program is connecting with everyone and meeting up together to be with everyone. We have a great time, everybody's smiling and challenging each other. The challenge days are maybe the best. I think that's one thing I like about the group most of all. When we all come together on a birthday that's like the best day ever because it’s like a big party.
DCFYI: Can you describe some of the challenge days and events that happen?
Marquis: At the birthday party, they have games and stuff like that. During the birthday party they have a water balloon toss where start close and then you pass it to each other. Then they have the pumpkin patch when we get together to see who can make the best sculpture out of pumpkins. There are pumpkins, you have the gingerbread houses, the bean bag race where you must tie your leg with one other person. And run down the stretch with that person and try to beat the other people and come back. There are a ton of things, a ton of activities that we have played it's very fun.
DCFYI: Do you think you'd ever come back and volunteer with DCFYI?
Marquis: Absolutely. For one, I would love to help out other youth as well and try to inspire them and try to really help them realize that there are other things to be worried about in life. A lot of times people get distracted with things that are not really necessary and they tend to make things that are not necessary, necessary. That's what kills their time and takes time away. I want to help out the youth with prioritizing and being more exact with what they want to be, not exactly what they are forced to be. Just different things that a lot of parents nowadays are having problems with when it comes to helping their kids out. When it comes to the group, I've seen some things, some kids have problems. Some kids were going through it and just talking with them and everything, I get to hear that they are just really tired. They just need a break and coming to the group, it actually helps them out and it’s very nice. That’s why I say the parties are very helpful.
DCFYI: How do you describe DCFYI to your close friends, people you know?
Marquis: I would tell them that these are real people, and you don't have to manipulate or try to use them to get what you want. Just talk to them about whatever problems you have, and they'll see if they can help you however they can. Don’t focus on the negative around you. Just try to focus on the positivity. When you get your mentor, try not to treat your mentor as a child, look at them as an adult, as a grown up, respect them as an adult and as a grown up. Have a more genuine relationship instead of a relationship based off wants and needs.