Lauren Huichan: 2010 Honoree
Growing up in an abusive household was terrifying and traumatic for Lauren. But when she was removed from her home at the age of 12, life didn't get magically better. Adrift in a broken foster care system without any real support, Lauren began acting out -- blowing off school, hanging out with the wrong crowd, and getting kicked out of group home after group home. She went through 22 housing placements in two years.
Facing the reality that she had run out of options, Lauren encountered a group called Adelante Youth Advocates of New Mexico. For the first time, she found herself surrounded by foster youths who had a positive outlook on the future. (Click here for more information about Adelante.)
In the ensuing years, Lauren has gone from being a recipient of Adelante's help to becoming a vital member of the organization; she's now entering her second term as President. With her own life successfully turned around -- she graduated high school, got her own apartment, and has begun a degree in psychology at the University of New Mexico -- Lauren has dedicated herself to making sure other foster youth won't have to struggle the way she did.
A magnetic personality now working to change the system from within, Lauren is a powerful voice for all foster youth. Educating and collaborating with judges, attorneys, social workers, legislators, and foster parents, she helps them understand the experiences with injustice, emotional abuse, and labeling that are common to the children and teens in their care. Her days are busy not just with a full course load, but with conference calls and meetings, planning committees, and volunteer coordination.
With her giving heart and ability to connect to other young people, Lauren also works with youth still in the system. Not only is she a facilitator in a program at a grief center called Gerard's House (click here for more information about Gerard's House), helping others cope with the constant sense of loss associated with being in foster care, but she's also as a direct mentor to two teens struggling in the system. She tirelessly serves as a role model and inspiration to other foster youth, letting them know that the positive potential for their futures is real and realizable.