A former foster kid wants to support young women who are transitioning out of the system
Faith and a dose of hope helped Malika Williams get through trying times—now she wants to pay it forward to young women in her hometown of Detroit.
Growing up on the east side of Detroit in the 1990s bring memories of laughter, bike riding with my friends, and walks to the corner store for 25-cent chips and juice. But it also was where I witnessed my first murder at the age of eight. My life was just beginning, but these trials and tribulations would grow with me, just as the physical and drug abuse intensified in my household. Many days we didn’t have food. I began to run away, seeking assistance from a love one. It wasn’t there, and so at age 14, I was placed in foster care. I was overwhelmed with anger. All I wanted was to be loved, instead I felt like a door was slammed in my face.
By the time I was 17 I was becoming everything statistics said I would be: I had a baby and was incarcerated for felony charges. I wanted to change that so I founded The L.I.V.E. Outreach. L.I.V.E.—acronym for Learn to Innovate while creating Valiant, Extraordinary people—was designed for an individual like myself who had a rough start at life but needs guidance and essential tools to become a successful, productive adult. My primary focus is the youth within the community because they’re our future. Since I’ve been in the community you learn that there are so many children who are in need of basic skills such as financial literacy, sex education, and health education, and job interviewing skills.
The Detroit school system cannot provide children in the urban community all of these vital skills, so L.I.V.E. has taken the initiative to be a voice for foster children living in an urban community. I’ve taken my own weaknesses and mistakes and turned them into a tool to help others.
Even at some of my lowest points in life, my faith kept me going, knowing that God had something much deeper in store for me. I want to give others hope, to motivate them to come out their comfort zones. It’s essential to show children opportunities that can change their life. My ultimate goal for The L.I.V.E Outreach is to purchase a house in the city of Detroit, rehab it, and provide independent living for teen girls transitioning out of foster care.
As I strive to leave my mark on the community, I want young people to understand the importance of volunteering and giving back to your community. This year, L.I.V.E Outreach will be launching its DIVA program which will focus on self-love, empowerment, and dedication to young girls between the ages of 12-18. We hope to provide these youth with tools that will benefit their future.
Malika shared her story with us—what’s yours? Tell us about a project you are working on in your hometown. Email The Renewal Project at firstname.lastname@example.org.