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“There’s so much that I want to do. I want to do everything!” said Diamond H., HeartShare St. Vincent’s Services’ 2016 Youth of the Year.
The Youth of the Year Award is presented each year at the agency’s annual Fall Fundraiser event to an outstanding young man or woman who has excelled personally and academically despite their experiences in foster care.
“I cried so much when I read the e-mail,” said Diamond about learning she was next in line for the award. “I’m really proud of this accomplishment.”
And she should be. The rising senior has gone through a lot in her young life. Diamond first came into foster care when her biological mother was deported back to Guyana. She was adopted at age 4 and lived a happy life with her adoptive mother and sisters. Last year, Diamond’s mother was hospitalized with a tumor and became very ill. Diamond and her sisters were placed back into care.
This is when Diamond encountered HeartShare St. Vincent’s Services. For a year, Diamond lived at the HSVS group home for young ladies on Staten Island. “It was hard to be separated from my mom and sisters, but the staff was there for me,” Diamond shared.
“I remember when I brought home my first report card. Ms. Davis, who was the House Manager at the time, didn’t say ‘Congratulations.’ Instead, she said ‘you can do better,'” Diamond recalled. “And I did.” That encouragement also is what pushed Diamond to submit her Youth of the Year application. “Ms. Spence really wanted me to give it a try and I got it!”
As a high school senior, Diamond is enjoying her English and Child Psychology courses. Whether she’s doing a close reading of Beowulf or examining types of human intelligence, Diamond has an infectious passion for life. “I want to study English in college and work with children and possibly teach. I want to take a cosmetology course and learn piano. And I might join the debate team.”
Diamond hasn’t always had this enthusiasm. “When I got to the HSVS group home, I finally realized that the opinions of my peers do not matter at all. I wanted to care about school. I wanted to learn something every day. So, that’s what I did.” Diamond recommends that confidence to other kids in care. “Don’t give up on yourself,” she said.
In the meanwhile, Diamond is preparing her speech for the HSVS Annual Benefit. “Dea’s speech was amazing,” Diamond said of last year’s Youth of the Year honoree.
But Diamond doesn’t need to fill the shoes of those who have come before her. She’s incredible all on her own.
The HSVS Annual Benefit is on Monday, October 17th. Register today to support incredible young men and women like Diamond.