Category Archives: Words from our youth

Get your copy of the Youth Newsletter!

Hearts & Homes for Youth has published the 4th edition of the Youth Newsletter, with content produced by the children and teens in our care!

Get your annual subscriptions for $10. Proceeds will go directly to the youth in our care, to help them afford tutors, vocational coaches, day care, and GED instructors!

Sign up here to receive Hearts & Homes for Youth’s
bi-monthly Youth Newsletter produced by and about the youth in our care!

The newsletter is an opportunity for youth in our care to share poems, stories, art, experiences, and their feelings about life. The goal of the newsletter is to give the youth a voice, a safe place to express themselves, and another opportunity to build their confidence and sense of worth.

The newsletter also serves as a valuable resource for youth, parents, and all readers who understand the importance of seeing the world through a young person’s eyes. The stories, poems, art, and other reflections in the newsletter will cover topics ranging from mental health, drug use, relationships, college, violence, education, community service, and workforce development.

A Volunteer’s Impact at Kemp Mill Group Home

Recently a young professional in the community came to our Kemp Mill Group Home where he plans to come every weekend to mentor the young men there. Some of the young men spoke with us about the impact the volunteer is having on their attitudes and goals. The young men said:

“I appreciate him coming to the home, I like him. He talks to us about a lot of stuff like his work and his experiences. He talked to us about stuff we don’t even know about like how to build a career in his field and the different departments. He talked to us about how to act when you want to get a job and how to work on our anger. He talked to us about how we act toward certain things. He talked to us about how to be independent. He’s got faith in us. He made us feel like we could do anything. He gave us confidence. He said he sees a lot of potential in me. He’s funny and his stories are interesting.”

“In a group there’s always one leader who makes people feel great, good, safe, cared for. He’s like a leader. Everybody listens to him. He’s got my respect. He puts effort in. I can tell when people care and I can tell he cares. He answers all our questions. He doesn’t get mad. I feel like he understands me, even though he’s not in my shoes, I feel like he understands me.”

“He influenced us to do better. Like the way he talked to us, it doesn’t seem like we should be in this predicament. He knows we could be doing better and we shouldn’t be doing the stuff we’re doing now. I look up to him like my big brother that passed away. I like when he comes, he makes you feel at home.”

Volunteers, mentors, and tutors can have an immeasurable impact on the youth in our care. If you are interested in mentoring or tutoring, contact Caitlin Ward at

Words from a former foster youth

500_f_82751996_rcnh63sditfnt1pnp5cf5thxlhbrew5vThe following was shared with us by a young woman who was previously in our foster care program. She highlights the impact her foster mother and Hearts & Homes for Youth had on her healing and growth. 

I grew up living with my parents until age 9. At that time, my older sister stepped in and placed me in foster care due to the way my parents were living and their inability to take care of me. My sister wanted me to be in a better place. When I entered foster care, I was placed in a Baltimore City home where I was bullied, humiliated by the foster parents, and made to feel less than human. Luckily, I was removed from that foster home and was placed with Hearts and Homes for Youth at the age of 12.

I’m so grateful to have had Hearts & Homes come into my life because without them I wouldn’t have met some of the people I had. The biggest impact in my life was my foster mom, because she allowed me to be myself. She opened up not only her heart but her home as well. While I was there, I started healing from my past. She helped me cope with my parents’ death and allowed me to stay with her after I aged out of foster care when I turned 21. She is the reason I learned to become the woman I am and I couldn’t imagine life without her. I couldn’t have asked for a better mom.

Hearts & Homes worked with me through my ups and downs. They never treated me like part of the system; they always treated me as though I mattered and was not just a number. They helped me reach my goals and let me know that I can be anything and do anything I set my mind to.

I think foster parents should know that all we really need is attention and love, just like if we were your own child.

Every single person I’ve met at Hearts & Homes for Youth has taught me something, even through simple words of encouragement. They taught me that life is full of challenges and opportunities, and even as an adult you still need help.

I now work as a retail sales associate at a beauty supply store and I am also an author of my own books that will be published in the coming months. I got married and joined a church that my husband and I enjoy going too, and I have no regrets about my past. I learned forgiveness on my journey, perseverance, and more importantly, to never be afraid to ask questions. I’m not perfect but I enjoy the life God has given me. I know now how short life can be. I’m grateful for everything.

Foster parents can make an incredible difference in a young person’s life. Click here if you are you ready to accept the challenge and be the change.

Securing summer jobs!

739D74EEB8We are ecstatic for one of our boys at Jumpstart Group Home who secured a job at an auto body shop!
He said, “I’m excited because it reminds me of how much I loved working at my stepdad’s auto shop. I’m so excited to be doing this work again. I love cars so much. It’s not just working on cars, it’s a new experience with auto-body collision repair. It’s not just fixing the engine, its fixing the structure and the body of the car. I feel amazing. I feel more motivated. I went from having a cold sleeve, thinking I didn’t have anything going for me, to having a hot sleeve. It’s a big lead. My mom is going to be so proud.”
This determined young person is currently a Junior in high school maintaining a 3.5 GPA with the goal of getting a scholarship to Lincoln Technical Institute.
We are also so proud of the girls at our Helen Smith Group Home who have secured summer jobs! Three of the girls will be working at restaurants this summer, and one will be working as a lifeguard at a community swimming pool! We are so excited for and proud of our girls!
Working is a great way to develop self-confidence, a greater sense of responsibility, and learn more about their career interests! Vocational support is one of many supportive services that we provide to the youth in our care to help them build brighter futures. Additional services provided by our devoted staff of child welfare professionals includes individualized case management, therapy, academic support, mental health support, advocacy, and life skills training in a homelike environment.

Youth Newsletter

CroppedWe are excited to announce that this summer we are launching the Youth Newsletter! The newsletter will serve as a valuable resource for youth, parents, and all readers who understand the importance of seeing the world through a young person’s eyes. The stories, poems, art, and other reflections in the newsletter will cover topics ranging from mental health, drug use, relationships, college, violence, education, community service, and workforce development.

We are selling annual subscriptions to the Youth Newsletter for $10. Proceeds from your annual subscription will go directly to the youth in our care, to help them afford recreational outings, learning and development opportunities, financial literacy classes, and other unique experiences chosen by the youth.

Sign up here to receive Hearts & Homes for Youth’s bi-monthly Youth Newsletter produced by and about the youth in our care!

Miss Rhode Island United States Coaching Miss Teen Maryland Contestant

dsc_0193_21948725589_oWe are so grateful to our dedicated supporter, Markita Bryant, crowned Miss Rhode Island United States 2013. Markita recently volunteered to coach a young woman from our Helen Smith Group Home for Girls who will be competing in the Miss Maryland Teen pageant!

“I feel incredible about the opportunity to coach this wonderful young lady!” said Markita. “It was not too long ago that I stood on a pageant stage to advocate for young ladies, such as this one. Doing so to one day inspire another young lady to be brave and bold; while bringing light to many situations that young women have faced. To exude such confidence, I am extremely proud of her! My hope is that this will bring great things for her and her advocacy. Hearts & Homes for Youth has done, and continues to do an excellent job at creating hope and opportunity for many youth!”

The young contestant, Sunny, is a 17-year old Senior in high school.  She grew up in foster care and wants to inspire other foster youth.

“I want to show other foster girls that they can do stuff too, foster care doesn’t stop you from doing anything,” said Sunny. “I see a lot of kids enter the foster system and give up on themselves, as if they think they can’t do certain things.”

In addition to standing up for foster kids, Sunny stands against bullying. She said, “I like to help people. I like to help new kids feel welcome, and stand up for people. You never know what someone could be going through and bullying just adds to it. We’re all human and you can’t judge anybody for who they are.”

Sunny’s favorite subject is English and she enjoys school. “Education is important, we need it to get into college and get a good job. It’s good to be intelligent,” she said.

Sunny also enjoys reading. “I love reading,” she said. “I learn a lot from books and it expands my vocabulary.” Sunny is interested in studying pre-law and discrimination law. She looks forward to being in a position where she can protect people.

Currently, Sunny enjoys volunteering with animals and at day cares. She is in the process of becoming a volunteer for the Humane Society.

All of us at Hearts & Homes are grateful to Markita for her ongoing support and advocacy for our youth. We greatly appreciate her time and dedication to supporting this inspiring young woman’s dreams!

Family Success Story: A note from a teen mom

UntitledThe following is a note written to Hearts & Homes for Youth by one of the teen moms in our foster care program who wanted to share how much her foster mother means to her. This note warmed our hearts and made our day, we are so grateful for this amazing and incredible foster parent. She has truly opened her heart and home to this young mom. Get the tissues!

Good Evening,

This email is simply an email of gratitude, and appreciation. Since being with Hearts And Homes, I’ve never felt so welcomed. My daughter and I were placed in Ms. K’s home, and we haven’t looked back since. Ms. K welcomed me as her daughter and my child as her granddaughter, and we haven’t felt anything less since we established that we are a family. My mother supports me, she loves me, she cares for me as a mother should. But she allows me to make my mistakes, while never leaving my side. And she remains there when it’s time to fix them. She hasn’t missed one event, she’s helped me with college applications, scholarships, essays, cleanliness, money management, time management, and so much more I can’t name at the moment. she’s awarded me for every accomplishment. And even without the rewards, the support she gives is award enough.  I just want to remind you all that you have a beautiful, supportive, awesome, encouraging, Foster Mother in Ms. K. And I would not feel comfortable nor complete without telling you how much of a wonderful person she is. Thank you so much, MJ 😘

Click here to learn more about being a foster parent.

Hearts & Homes youth receives award from MARFY

Donovan-page-001On June 11, 2015 the Maryland Association of Resources for Families and Youth (MARFY) held its annual Youth Achievement Awards ceremony. The MARFY Youth Achievement Awards have been a special tradition for member agencies, families, and youth for many years.  As an association of providers in a field that is often focused on the challenges of our youth and work, it is an evening to celebrate hard work, success and growth.

DonovanThis year, one of our very own, a young man from John C. Tracey (JCT) Group home, was recognized by MARFY as a Youth Achievement Award Recipient. We are so proud of him for his dedication to himself and his school work. We are also proud of his considerate and thoughtful response to being chosen as an award recipient. He wrote:

“Ms. Tish (JCT Program Manager) and her entire team have all made an impact by talking to me, treating me with respect and encouraging me to be my very best.

Fate is what befalls a man who fails to act; destiny is for men who refuse to accept their failure as fate. We all have failures, the trick is to not let them define you, rather let them refine you and believe in your destiny.”

Congratulations on your hard work and well deserved recognition!


“Thank you for accepting me”

8Y0EDX4VP9A young woman who will be coming into our care this week took the time to write us a note to express how she felt about coming to Hearts & Homes. We were touched by her words and understanding of our mission; we have shared it with you below:

“First and foremost I would like to say thank you for accepting me to your group home program. I would like to express my gratitude and prove to your program that accepting me was not a mistake but a chance to help and heal a misunderstood and too many times to count, rejected young girl. When I had first received this news, I was so proud that I actually started to worry. I was worried that maybe my P.O. had been telling me the wrong news by mistake. But it finally registered in my head once I received your program papers with my name typed in the papers. At that moment I knew that this is for real and it is time for me to give back the same respect that I have been given. That is why I have written this letter. This is just the start of a new beginning. God has given me another chance to show people that I am better than the first view of the eye, or about the things that are written about me from my past life. It is never too late to change; the end of one thing is the beginning of another.”

Letter to a judge

OV26AOMUMIMany of the children and teens in our care are referred to Hearts & Homes for Youth by judges who believe that the youth need a safe, supportive, and nurturing environment to get back on their feet. Often youth tell us about their gratitude to people such as Judge Dawson, who often directly tell the youth that they believes in them. The words often motivate the kids to invest in themselves while they are in our care and take advantage of every opportunity to grow and learn.

Recently we heard from a woman who was in our care years ago. Since leaving Hearts & Homes, this young woman has traveled the world, completed her Masters degree at an Ivy League School, and worked with some of the most elite civic institutions in this country. She is extremely passionate about providing others with opportunities and has remained grateful to Judge John C. Tracey, who she credits with having “opened the door for [her] to lead an incredible and gifted life.”

On her 25th anniversary of being removed from an unsafe environment and placed in Hearts & Homes’ Independent Living Program, she recalled Judge Tracey’s “generosity of spirit and warmness” that resulted in her leaving home and building “a very rich and rewarding life with extraordinary friends and a new family.”

She said, “I have replayed the court proceedings a thousand times over in my head through the years. The conversation Judge Tracey had with me, but especially my father, and Judge Tracey’s guidance and compassion in the courtroom, has been a huge source of comfort for me and I believe gave my father some peace and a perspective that he so desperately needed. He passed away many years ago but fortunately had apologized for being an unfit parent. That allowed me to forgive him so I feel a double indebtedness to Judge Tracey.”

Making a person feel understood, accepted, and normal are not small things, they can have a huge impact. Judge Tracey, like countless other Juvenile and Family Court Judges, made a big difference in this young woman’s life – by referring her to a safe home, communicating his faith in her, and sharing his words of guidance with her and her father.