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My name is Ma’Kia West; I’m 20 years old.
I first entered foster care when I was 14 years old. My mother had passed away when I was 10, and my father didn’t handle it well. He turned to drugs and alcohol.
I moved a lot during my time in foster care: start over at new schools all the time, make new friends all the time, get to know new neighborhoods.
I turned 18 and was completely lost. I didn’t know what I was doing, and I still didn’t really have stable housing, and I found myself homeless and broke.
Before I came First Place, I didn’t have anything. I was definitely scared. I was, in a sense, kind of unprepared because I didn’t know what to expect. That’s what they’re trained for. They know that you don’t just walk in knowing exactly what’s going to happen. But they help you build your confidence, really, and that’s what I needed.
They gave me a place to live and helped me with school and employment, budgeting, transportation.
For the first time in a long time, I felt like I wasn’t alone.
Everybody was just such a great help. My youth advocate, my education specialist, and even the people who teach the workshops. It feels kind of good having someone actually care about what’s going on in your life and saying “if you do need anything.” In a way it kind of feels like a big happy family.
Anything that I need, they’re there for. They’re there to listen; they’re there to help.