“Having that consistent person I could count on and connect with was so personal to me.”
Marquis Williams is joining the Los Angeles chapter as a Friend. Marquis is a dedicated advocate for children and has worked with youth ranging from kindergarten to high school for many years in L.A. In 2014, he received the President’s Volunteer Service Award for his commitment to community service and giving back.
Marquis holds a bachelor’s degree in Recreation Management, with an emphasis on youth development from California State University, Northridge. He has also written a book titled “Beating the System: My Life in Foster Care.” We sat down with him and asked him about why he decided to work for Friends of the Children.
Why were you interested in working at Friends of the Children?
I was interested after meeting Terri and Gary and learning about the model. What stood out to me was the early intervention and the long-term commitment to children who are facing obstacles and are at high risk. I also have a personal commitment. I grew up in the foster care system and had a mentor in first grade who stuck with me when times were hard. Having that consistent person I could count on and connect with was so personal to me.
How do you think our program is different from other programs that serve youth involved in foster care?
Friends of the Children focuses on the Core Assets that live within the child and are critical for development and a child’s long-term goals. Those Core Assets will help with finishing school and going on to be productive members of society. Kids in foster care face uncertainties and unpredictable situations such as housing and connections with people. Having that one person you can count on when everything else around you is unstable is very special.
How are you planning to approach building trusting relationships with the youth you serve?
I will be genuinely supportive and will do my best to connect and show that I care. I will be that consistent figure, which is something that I think over time will build trust. I want to be able to provide them someone who they feel cares about them, see it and mean it, showing up.
How will your personal and professional experiences help to guide your work?
I think my own personal experience is where the passion comes in. That’s what fuels my motivation to pay it forward to the next generation. It’s my way to thank individuals who stepped in and helped me. Before joining Friends of the Children, I worked with teenagers in foster care. I realized that they had fallen behind in school and lacked a lot of support and consistent figures. That's one of the reasons I like the Friends approach. They start early, work with them and stay with them all the way through.
Why does this work matter?
The results of Friends of the Children speak for itself. Research shows that all it takes is one caring individual to change the statistics - avoiding juvenile, avoiding early parenting and finishing school. Everyone has the desire to want to live a great life. I think sometimes life circumstances, not the individual potential, gets in the way. I am excited to be part of such a great organization, and am looking forward to the journey.