Community Highlight – Erin Leahy & Family

Florida’s Children First received a phone call a few weeks ago from a mother just listening to her 8 year old daughter’s instructions: call an organization that helps foster kids and ask how we can help. Erin Leahy, now 9 years old, recently went on a family vacation to Marco Island and came back with a realization – kids in foster care don’t travel, don’t have toys and most importantly they don’t even have a family. She immediately started researching organizations that help children in the state system of care and came across Florida’s Children First. In a couple of weeks she would be turning 9 years old and instead of presents from her guests, she asked for donations to our nonprofit.

In just a few weeks, Erin and her family raised over $800.

They were kind enough to stop in our office and surprise us with the incredible support from the community. We were speechless. If someone so young can think big, we hope the rest of the community can too and appreciate an amazing deed when they see one. Please click on the flyers below to read Erin’s story in her own words.


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Alexia Nechayev

FYS Events & Meeting Chair
(Palm Beach)

Hello, My name is Alexia Nechayev. I am 25 years old and I am an alumna of Florida International University where I received my B.A. in Psychology. My future career goal is to be a Lawyer. I was in care for about one year from age 17 to 18. Prior to entering care, I only knew about the negative stigma regarding foster care and while in care that narrative was unfortunately my experience.

In school I felt like I was on display because my status in care was broadcast to other students and in my placement behavior was leveraged for “privileges” that should be a natural right of all children. Because I did not know my rights I did not know that what I was experiencing was wrong. Today this is exactly why I advocate, because I don’t want this to be the same for other youth who are experiencing foster care.

This is my second year on the FYS Statewide Board and I’m happy to be the Events and Meetings Chair this year because my main goal through advocacy is to reach as many people as possible. My favorite thing as a board member is to see how comfortable members become while working together. The community needs to know that youth in foster care are real people, going through some of the hardest moments of their life and youth need to know that their voice is powerful. I believe that we have to speak up and bring these issues to people’s attention so that they do not forget us. Advocacy, education and consistency is the only way.

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