The youth-written stories in Represent give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

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Congratulations Winners! #121
Describe a time when you truly felt loved
Writing Contest Winners

1st Prize $150 winner + $200 “wish certificate” from One Simple Wish
A Father’s Love Lives On

When I was younger, my sisters burned me because they were jealous that I knew who my dad was and he cared. When my other sister found out she told my dad, and he was livid. He was so upset that he came to Jamaica and brought me back to New York.

He took me to get my burns treated. He paid for me to get plastic surgery and got me taken care of. He was an amazing dad, and the only time I ever felt real love was around him. He made everyone around him better. He always gave me the best and sacrificed to make sure I was OK, up until the day he died. Everything I do is still for him: Even though he’s not here I hope I’m making him proud.

This was love because it made everything better. Just seeing him made me happy. His smile made me smile and his eyes were so peaceful. Love makes you see the positive in every situation. To this day I have never felt that way about anyone else, and remembering that feeling makes me never want to settle for less. Even though I haven’t been searching, I know love can only be found with someone genuine who gives their all without holding you back.

Shantha Ellinora Vernon, 21
Bronx, NY

2nd Prize $100 winner + $100 “wish certificate” from One Simple Wish
The Confused May Ask

What is love? the confused may ask. Is it a hug? Is it sex without a glove from which babies are made? Growing up with no momma ‘cause she strung out on a drug?

Is love an engagement? Is love the ones you call your homies who left someone on the pave for you? Does love have an age? Is love domestic violence in which an insecure man or woman beats on you out of rage?

Nowadays love is confusing; some live in lust which is just a phase. Love is like a maze, lost if you take the wrong turn. Love is the mother who lost her son so she mourns. Love is happiness, speaking life to a man or woman you call your husband or wife. Love is a mother who hugs you tight. Love is not sex or crack pipes. Love is the feeling when someone genuine comes into your life.

Love is pushing me to my best full potential and beyond, undress my mind and soul and not a thong. Love is loyalty, not putting me in a situation where I do wrong. Love is overrated, just like a good song. Love is never giving up hope and being willing to fight. Love is staying alive and keeping your family’s spirit high. Love is unconditional yet unpredictable.

My grandma is my pride. She never gave up on me, always stuck by my side. She showed me real love, always knew it was there. Went to a program away from the fake, fixed my relationship with my grandmother and realized love has no date. Cut all my negative behaviors off and came face-to-face with love—real, healthy, and happy.

Aquila Rufus, 17
Glassboro, NJ

3rd Prize $50 winner + $50 “wish certificate” from One Simple Wish
Two Kinds of Love

There are a couple different ways to love someone. One is being in love with someone and another is unconditional love. I have an 11-month-old son and a fiance. I am loved by them all the time. How do I know this? My fiancé goes to the edge of the world for me (and our son). Whenever I need him he is there. He tells me I am beautiful and that he loves me. When I was going through a hard time, my fiancé took me in his arms and told me everything was going to be OK and that he was there for me and that it was us against the world.

When I gave birth to our baby boy, I automatically knew how to love him unconditionally. When love hits you like that, you think to yourself that everyone deserves to feel and know love like that. I received a lot of knowledge on love in that moment.

Jessica Lane, 17
Pennsauken, NJ

Honorable Mentions: Gabriella Inman, Marcellus Sawyer, Romeo Thibou, Samira Todd, Danielle Wyatt.

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