Stories of Hope is an ongoing series from Edgewood highlighting our work and the lives changed for those young people able to engage with our services.
Melissa’s story is the one we all want to tell, the story we all want to believe is possible for every youth and child we serve: that the child will grow through the pain and trauma to become a happy young adult who shares their many gifts and talents with the world.
Melissa is a former foster youth who first connected with Edgewood through a California Youth Connection meeting. With encouragement from a friend, she applied for a Peer Partner position and ultimately got it. She says, “it was my first professional job…and it motivated me to work with kids like me…”
Melissa describes her early childhood and eventual placement into foster care as “chaotic and confusing…I didn’t know what it meant to be a foster kid. I was just told what to do and where to go. I had no idea I had rights or options.”
“One thing I learned in the system is that you have to depend on yourself. I also learned there are resources out there and people who are willing to help and offer guidance or encouragement… So, I hear the stories young people tell me and try to figure out how I can help. I want to give them a chance to have the life I have gotten, the life people showed me I could have.”
It has been nearly six years since Melissa started at Edgewood’s Full Service Partnership Program and in that time she has held three different positions, put herself through college, acted as a Student Outreach Ambassador, interned with the County of San Mateo, all the while continuing to support her family and sharing the many lessons she has learned along the way.