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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Staff Shout-Out
Mayra Vicuña, Lutheran Social Services
Awilda Ferreira

I was 16 years old when I first came into foster care. I did not have anyone I could look up to or depend on. That changed two years later when I got my second social worker, Mayra Vicuña.

Mayra immediately shared her cell phone number and told me to call her anytime. She advocated for me to get extra money from foster care for my son, who was 4 when I first met Mayra. She made sure my son and I were placed in a safe home. I was on probation, and even though she didn’t have to, she came to my probation appointments with me.

Mayra has gone out of her way to stay on top of my immigration status and my application for public housing. She encourages me to be independent and get my own apartment, go to college, and have a job.

She calls me to make sure I’m OK. She helps me with budgeting and with saving money for when I get my own place. She constantly advocates for me and keeps me informed about any programs she thinks are good for me and for my son.

I can lean on Mayra when things do not go as planned, which is a lot lately. I do not get as frustrated because I know Mayra is there to help me get through it. I have a rocky situation with my family, so having her there for me is comforting. She’s like a mother figure because she’s there when I need her.

Most recently, Mayra got me an exception to policy so I can stay in care after I turn 21. I need that extra time while I wait for my immigration papers, which I need to work and get housing.

When I entered care, I never thought I would be close with a social worker. I give Mayra a shout-out because she made this journey a lot easier.

This column is written by our readers in care. Tell us about a staff who believed in you, listened to you, advocated for you, gave you great advice, who in any way made your life better. E-mail your essay to with the subject line Staff Shout-Out. Please include the staff’s full name and agency. Essays will be edited for length and clarity. The writer of the essay we run will receive $50.

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