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Mayda Berrios has a Message…

After Foster Care, the (Challenges) POSSIBILITIES are Endless!”

“Team Up — Dream Up!” That was the title of Mayda Berrios’ workshop at the 35th Annual National Independent Living Conference in Denver, Colorado last month. “Every young person leaving foster care needs a ‘village’, a community of supportive people.” It’s a message Mayda passionately shares — and one she knows from personal experience. After three years in foster care in Delaware, she took advantage of the scholarship offered to students exiting the foster care system and enrolled in Delaware State University. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with her BSW from Delaware State University in 2022; one year later she completed her MSW. “Now, I am ready, “she says. “I want to use my voice to advocate for my peers.” Today she is sharing her message of hope, encouragement, and enthusiasm with wider and wider audiences.

Mayda’s passion for advocacy work emerged early in her college years. Introduced to the Youth Advisory Council of Delaware for Former Foster Youth in 2017, she served as president for two years, advocating for her peers. These efforts contributed to the 2021 passage of HB 123, providing youth in foster care a tuition waiver for college.

AT DSU, Mayda was president of a campus organization, Companion Champions, working with other DSU students “to amplify the voices of youth in foster care by providing mentoring services and special events”. She became involved with Foster Club, the national network for youth in care, in the summer of 2020, participating in conferences and serving on panels across the country. The following summer she coached the new cohort of interns, training over 20 national advocates. And this year, Mayda was the Keynote Scholar Speaker at the Annual Starfish Ball with the NSORO Scholarship Foundation in Atlanta, Georgia, helping to raise over $1 million in funds to support youth pursuing higher education.

Speaking for — and to — her peers across the Country over the last two years has encouraged Mayda to pursue motivational speaking on an international level. Closer to home, she will serve as a Behavior Specialist at a middle school in Wilmington, Delaware.

First Unitarian members, especially ILYA supporters and volunteers, can feel pride in Mayda and her many accomplishments — and pride in ILYA! Here’s what Mayda says, “ILYA has played a tremendous role in my success, and I can’t help but to have gratitude for all of your support for not only me but for hundreds of other youth across the state. Continue being the light and know that your assistance has impacted many lives.”

Mayda’s connection with First U began through ILYA’s Student Care Package Project (SCPP). Barbara Crowell’s ‘care packages’ (gifts containing homemade cookies, fun treats, assorted supplies for college students and occasionally a modest gift card) were the start of a lifetime friendship! “Mayda so inspires me,” says Barbara. “And I couldn’t be more proud of her.”        Contact Barbara Crowell to learn more about ILYA: