In this installment of the DCFYI Digest, we sat down with Cierra to discuss how one DCFYI event demonstrates the support of DCFYI volunteers and staff.
DCFYI: Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? How did you get involved with DCFYI?
Cierra: My name Cierra, I'm 24 and I've been a part of DCFYI since the very beginning. Before DCFYI, they had a program called Kidsave. And I was a part of that one as well. So, I've been a part of DCFYI from the very beginning. I got into because I was in foster care, and I was a part of a big family, and I wasn't really with my family. So, someone thought that it would be great for me to find a mentor or meet friends through the program or different things like that. And I guess they referred me to Ms. Susan. I love DCFYI. It really changed my life, my perspective on life, and really like trying to better myself and thinking about the future and introducing me to new backgrounds that I wasn't previously privy to.
DCFYI: That's great. Can you talk about some of the people you've met through DCFYI?
Cierra: I do have a mentor; his name is David. I met David in my older years and the end of my teens, closer to when I was aging out of foster care. But prior to meeting David, I had Sarah and Manoj, a married couple who are host parents. Myron is there on my birthday; he still gives me books because I love books. Even Kristina who is another youth’s mentor, she reaches out to me. Judith, and her husband, they all reach out to me on my birthdays or just to check in with me when everything was on lockdown to just make sure I was just okay. And so, it's many people and Ms. Susan's at the top of the totem pole. She really does not get all the credit that she deserves. This is the lady who owns it, who runs it, who is a part of it. Every event she's driving kids in her Prius doing pickups in her car. Personally, it's not like she's on the sidelines. If anything needs to be mailed out, she does it all herself and she finds volunteers. She's great.
DCFYI: What’s the one thing that you would say is a testament to the great work DCFYI is doing?
Cierra: Every year they throw a birthday party, and they have like a big cake with everybody’s name on it. So, it's like even if your birthday has come or it's coming, you can't say you didn't have a birthday party. And it's so thoughtful. And we get to play games and we get to do all these kinds of things. And the whole day is really dedicated to us. No matter when your birthday is. Because oftentimes youth or sometimes youth who were in foster care, sometimes maybe you didn't have a birthday party, a lot of times I didn't have a birthday party. But every year since I've been a part of DCFYI, I've had a birthday party. Sarah is the one who makes the cakes most of the time, sometimes new volunteers who come in, they do it. But she makes these mason jar cakes, and you can save it until your birthday, it's good for like a whole year. And on your birthday, she might bake an M&M one or a chocolate one, whichever one she makes they are all good. And you see that it has that little balloon on it, little streamers, and it's like you get a birthday gift or you get a gift that you can save until your birthday. Most of the time it's a book, but it's like valuable that like that's one of the biggest things that I can say, like really stuck out.
DCFYI: When you get older, would you consider working or volunteering with DCFYI?
Cierra: I think so. That's a good question. It’s crazy because I wouldn’t think twice about it. I think once I get older and more established, it's kind of like one of my jobs in life. Like because if I didn’t have my mentor David, I don't know where I'd be. And I know that there are other youth who feel the same way. And so, I would love to be someone's forever lifelong link because I had that. But without that, I know where it could lead you or place you. So yeah, I would, I would love to. It is kind of like an honor.
DCFYI: You shared how you were in the program before DCFYI. What were you thinking when they said they were going to start DCFYI?
Cierra: Ms. Susan was very inclusive with us. We got to sit down and see the new design for DCFYI. She really assured us that the plan was really the same and that the program was just a new name and just from a different perspective. It was better for us when the new program came. And I think she knew that, which is why she created it. And I wasn't hesitant or really scared because the same people were coming. We knew that newer people were coming, but we knew that. I think with Kidsave, that's kind of how Ms. Susan found out what all she could do, what all she could cover under the realm of her hat. In what sense could I really help under the realm that I'm in? And I think once she figured it out, that's when she started DCFYI.