Jewel Rich spent nearly 4 years in Michigan's Foster Care System.
Jewel Rich describes herself as “an entrepreneur; singer, songwriter, spoken word artist, fashion designer, visionary, philosopher, life coach, and an advocate for all those with ‘no voice’.” She is also a youth in foster care who is using her voice and making a difference. Jewel is the Board Chair of Wayne County Department of Human Services’ "Peer-To-Peer Mentoring" Pilot Program for current and former foster youth ages 14-26. For two years in a row she represented Wayne County at The Jim Casey Leadership Conferences as a panelist on the Permanency Planning panel. Jewel says about the experience, “I LOVED this experience because I was able to speak-up for all those who weren't able to or refused to!” She also participated in the 2010 African World Festival and is now acting as the Project Assistant of the Charles H. Wright's "Just Like Me & Oscar Micheaux" Minority Youth Film Project. When she isn’t working or volunteering, Jewel takes classes at Wayne County Community College. She is working towards an Entrepreneurial Certificate and a degree in Anthropology, Sociology, and Psychology. In high school, Jewel made the Principal's List and National Honor Roll, received the highest overall Tera Nova test scores, scored in the Top Fifth Percentile on the National Work Keys Test. She won 3rd place in a literacy/arts competition for her self-narration, “My First Few Days In The System”, and poem, “Where Lost Souls Roam”, about the girls’ group home she was first placed in. Although the time she spent in foster care was often challenging, Jewel is thankful for many of the experiences and opportunities she encountered because of it, especially when she stayed at a girls group home. “Although I experienced a lot of pain while there, it was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me,” says Jewel. “It taught me who I really am, and it forced me to deal with people my own age, which up until then I had avoided at all costs.” And although she has yet to live entirely on her own, the independent living program she was enrolled in through foster care helped her to learn many of the skills she will need such as maintaining a full-time job, budgeting, cooking, cleaning, decorating, etc. One of the biggest challenges Jewel had to overcome was finding herself and understanding her identity. She writes, “It’s been a long, hard, tedious process fitting it all together, but I’m finally proud to tell everyone who I am; I'm a beautiful, talented, intelligent, driven woman, who just happens to be Black, German, Irish, and Native American!”