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
Cresa Gallarita, New York Foundling
Selena Garcia

When I turned 15, I made a big effort to improve. When people noticed I was changing, they said things like, “I like the new you better,” or, “Glad that the old you is finally gone.”

It made me feel good that they praised the change, but I also was hurt that they rejected the “old me.” I considered myself the same person turning over a new leaf, and I didn’t want to be judged by my past.

It felt like social workers had only judged me by my past behaviors until I met my socio-therapist, Cresa Gallarita. She didn’t look at my past and automatically judge me for it. When I was feeling some type of way, she knew and asked me what was wrong. She listened to me and gave me the best advice. She seemed to care about me, not the money.

She told me that I was beautiful and talented. She treated me more like a younger sibling than a case. We even had handshakes and nicknames for each other: I was “Chiquita Banana” and she was “Reese’s Pieces.”

No matter what I did or what people said about me, she believed in me. When things got tough, I knew I had her. It is hard to gain my trust, but she did. She is a beautiful, thoughtful, and caring person.

When I got adopted on June 25, 2015, I got discharged from the agency. They said I had to end my contact with those workers. I was sad to lose the strong bond I had with Cresa. Fortunately, they let adoptees keep a few workers as mentors so I got to keep Cresa in my life.

Cresa made a big impact on me. I love her because she is there for me and she never talked down to me. Chiquita Banana will always be grateful for her Reese’s Pieces.

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 $100.

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