Simone Hines spent time in New York's foster care system.

At times, perspective can be all we have to keep our faith in eachother. Simone Hines knows that the “purpose of the foster care system is to provide” for youth when their biological parents cannot. But what happens when that system begins to alienate those very youth it seeks to provide for? Simone believes in the power of involvement as a solution to this problem. It is important for foster youth to “feel that [they] are impacting [the foster system] and not just being impacted by it.” When so much of one’s youth is controlled by unseen outside forces, Simone says communication must occur between subject and system so that “people know what [foster youth] think and feel.” Without this connection, the system could slip into a cold bureaucracy.

Simone was placed into the foster system in New York at the early age of 4, but having been placed with familial relatives, didn’t realize her situation until later on. During high school Simone participated in Mission Leaders, which accessed her to various community service projects. She found herself traveling upstate to Syracuse where she worked with mentally disabled adults. After this, she was gone on a trip to New Orleans to work on a major demolition project following the disastrous Hurricane Katrina. Simone also volunteered on the Pediatrics Ward of New York-Presbyterian Hospital where she worked with younger children, something she sees herself doing professionally someday soon.

Currently enrolled in college and working towards a major in Human Development, Simone derives strength and encouragement from her past in the foster system, but still has trouble reconciling her relationship with her father. When she is in contact with her paternal family, she uses the opportunity to express herself and communicate that she is in a better place without her father. However frustrating and difficult this may be, even outside the foster system Simone uses the power of communication to dictate her own future, rather than letting someone else dictate for her. Simone is a role model of strength for all foster youth, showing that you do have a choice and an inherent right to be heard.

Team(s) or Cohort(s)
2014 Outstanding Young Leaders