Melinda has a lot of enthusiasm for life and her great attitude takes her far. In two foster homes and one residential facility, she acknowledges that one of the biggest challenges growing up in the system was not being able to see her biological family whenever she wanted.

She admits that she would like to have been with her family more, but, on the positive side, foster care has shown her that there are other families out there that do care about her. She also feels that she’s learned to accept people’s differences. For example, she realized when she learned that her first foster mom did not go to her church and practiced a difference religion, that, “I was OK with it”. In all, she feels her challenges have made her stronger and more independent.

      In the future, Melinda wants to support fellow children and youth in the system because foster care exists to help with their life and the tough times. She feels other foster youth know what they’ve been through and it is important to give them support and the feeling that somebody actually cares about them.

While in care has learned about the rights youth have in care and she’s interested in sharing that information, too. Melinda boasts a great attendance record at school, is active in track, cross country, and soccer, and has received leadership and citizenship awards.

Some of her leadership and volunteer activities include helping out at the St Louis County library, walking dogs for the elderly, advocating for children in foster care to State Senators and Representatives as a volunteer with the St Louis County Chafee Board, membership in the Regional Youth Advisory Board- St Louis County, meeting with the local aging out program. Mostly, Melinda is proud of being positive even in the toughest situations.