Ambassador Girl Scout
What are some of your favorite hobbies?
Baking, going to the beach, boating, playing with my dog
In a word, what does it mean to say, "I am a Girl Scout"?
What college do you plan to attend? Have you decided on your major?
I will be attending Florida International University (FIU) Honors College, studying Business Management. I am entering with the Bright Futures Scholarship and the College Board National Hispanic Recognition Scholarship
What is the title of your project?
Please describe your project. Be as specific as possible, including what, where and how you completed your project?
I founded a nonprofit organization called Fostering Futures, which helps underprivileged teenagers in the foster care system to set and achieve goals. Within this organization is the Fostering Futures program, which currently consists of 16 workshops - each with a curriculum that teaches the teenagers an important goal-setting skill, including:
Building a support system
During the workshops, the teens participate in games, watch educational videos, complete interactive activities, and write reflections, all of which teach them different skills needed to reach their goals. Included in this program is a virtual career day workshop where the teens have the opportunity to hear from various professionals in the workforce, and a vision board workshop where the teens are able to set goals in a creative manner. Through the Fostering Futures program, the teens also have the opportunity to participate in workshops where they listen to a testimony video from best-selling author and teen life coach Cyndy Etler, who was once in the foster care system, as well as participate in renowned teen life coach Dr. RJ’s “The Teen Fit In & Stand Out Challenge.” The Fostering Futures program has become a permanent feature at both Miami Bridge facilities, which serve as emergency youth shelters for teens, and His House Children’s Home, a group home for foster children.
Through the Fostering Futures organization, I have also organized several donation drives to help the foster care community. During the initial stages of the program, I organized a donation drive for arts and crafts supplies which helped the facilities prepare for the first vision board workshops; however, all participating facilities have now allotted a portion of the budget towards funding all supplies needed. More recently, I have organized a donation drive for teens aging out of the foster care system, where approximately $1,000 worth of Visa gift cards and 40 packs of underwear were donated and delivered. In an effort to continue serving the foster care community, I am working on organizing a tutoring service for facilities using the Fostering Futures program and planning more donation drives, including a drive for informational college booklets to help the teens prepare for their future.
My service project is sustainable. The Fostering Futures program has become a permanent feature at His House as well as both Miami Bridge facilities and has been continued without my involvement for several months. All participating facilities have hired personnel to supervise the workshops and have allocated a portion of the budget to fund any supplies needed for the program. Since each workshop within the Fostering Futures program is accompanied by a curriculum containing detailed and easy-to-follow instructions, the teens are able to complete all activities independently. In addition, since the Fostering Futures program can be implemented without extensive involvement on my part, I have been working on expanding the program to several foster care group homes around the country. I am currently in contact with representatives from multiple foster care homes throughout the United States and hope to be implementing the program at more facilities within the near future.
Why is this project important to you? What gave you the inspiration to approach this topic the way that you did?
I have been a Girl Scout since I was 5 years old and therefore began participating in community service from a very young age. Throughout my time as a Girl Scout I have volunteered at several diverse communities but I have always been most impacted by the foster care community. Volunteering at foster care group homes allowed me to connect with a group of adolescents similar to me and learn about each of their unique stories. These experiences led me to realize how fortunate I am to have such a strong support system, and as I grew older I was inspired to take action and help the community that had so strongly impacted me throughout my life. Something I began to realize during my time volunteering at these foster care organizations was that the younger children received significantly more attention than the teenagers, despite the fact that the teens were in a stage of their life where support and guidance is crucial. I soon realized that this was an issue that needed to be solved, leading me to create a specialized program targeted towards providing teens in foster care with the guidance they need to succeed in life. Fostering Futures is an organization I initiated on my own, and I am overjoyed that I was able to create something that can positively impact so many lives.
What was the biggest challenge you faced and how did you overcome it?
The most significant challenges I faced while leading this project were a lack of commitment and communication from the group homes I was working with. During the initial stages of the project I had chosen His House as the first facility that would implement the program. I had been in contact with a representative from the facility for several months and we were nearly ready to begin the program. Unfortunately just before the program was supposed to begin I found myself unable to reach the representative, despite sending several emails and making many phone calls.
Weeks later, she notified me that His House was no longer able to implement the program due to some complications at the home, requiring me to restart the entire process of implementation with a new facility. After completing extensive research and reaching out to several professionals in the social work field, I chose both Miami Bridge homes to be the first facilities at which the program would be implemented. It took several months to make this possible, because despite their interest in the program, Miami Bridge was understaffed and the majority of the representatives were too busy to collaborate with me.
After being transferred to several different representatives and several months of intensive planning, I was finally able to implement the program. Soon after the program was implemented at the Miami Bridge facilities, I was notified by a representative from His House that they were ready to implement the program. The program has now been used at His House and both Miami Bridge facilities for several months, and it has been a great success.
Although these obstacles were difficult to overcome, this experience has taught me resilience and strengthened my communication and leadership skills. I am now using these skills to continue expanding the program to foster care group homes across the country, and I am beyond excited that the Fostering Futures organization has had such a positive and widespread impact on so many young lives.
How does this project contribute to your future goals?
The Girl Scout law to “make this world a better place” has inspired me to use the skills I have gained through my time as a Girl Scout to make a positive impact on my community, as well as the world. Throughout the process of completing my Gold Award I had the opportunity to help many teens in foster care, meanwhile learning about their stories and experiences. Having the opportunity to help these people has truly shown me how my actions are capable of making a difference in others’ lives and that I can make a positive impact on this world.
It is this realization that has inspired my dream — to create my own nonprofit organization that will help those in need. Being a Girl Scout has opened my eyes and allowed me to experience firsthand how many people in my community are in need of a helping hand, and through my nonprofit I plan on using my leadership skills to unite my community towards helping those most in need.
What did you learn about yourself in the process of completing your project?
One of the main leadership skills I have acquired is project management. Organizing and implementing this program required extensive planning and collaboration with others. Being in charge of so many responsibilities strengthened my ability to manage several tasks at once and work towards a goal. Another leadership skill I gained was communication. By leading my team towards creating this program, I learned how to work with others and unite a team towards a common goal. This project required significant collaboration, which allowed me to learn the importance of strong communication. One other skill I put into practice was empathy. This project was meant to benefit teenagers who have had an unstable life, which led to me to learn much about their situation. Learning about the struggles they have faced has increased my desire to help this group of people so that they can feel worthy and important. Working on this project and helping them grow has greatly increased my ability to view life from others’ perspective and therefore realize where help is most needed. I hope to use all of these skills in the future to continue making a positive impact on my community.
I have also learned that I have a strong passion for helping others and making an impact on my community. There is no better feeling than knowing that you have made a positive impact on others’ life, and I feel blessed to have been able to help the teens at Miami Bridge and His House. I hope to continue growing my passion for community service by continuing to expand this project in the future, as well as start other service projects that benefit other audiences; my dream is to create my own nonprofit organization that has the ability to make a difference in this world, and I strongly believe that working on this project has brought me closer to achieving this goal. Completing this project has inspired me to continue working hard and making a positive impact wherever I can.
What did you learn about your community in the process of completing your project?
In the process of completing my project, I learned how many people there are in my community that are in need of a helping hand. Immersing myself in the foster care community has led me to realize that there are teenagers like me who are suffering, and that I am capable of making a difference in their lives.
I also learned how pertinent the issue I addressed truly is. In fact, there are an estimated 2.7 million children in the foster care system throughout the world. This means 2.7 million children are not receiving the proper guidance and care they need to succeed in the future. By extending love and support to these adolescents who lack so much, we can make a significant positive impact not only on the children themselves, but on our communities as a whole.
Did you receive any awards or recognitions for your project?
This project led me to be nominated for the Miami Herald Silver Knight Award in the mathematics category.