On the Loss of a Fellow Foster Youth, Felicia Smith

Sunshine Decosta, left, and her friend Felicia Smith, right, who was tragically killed a few weeks ago. Sunshine and Felicia grew up in foster care. Photo courtesy of Sunshine Decosta

Felicia Smith and I met in high school. She went to Washington Preparatory High School with me before transferring to Animo. We both had a lot in common, including the fact that both of us were in foster care.

We would meet up after school and do homework together. She loved tennis and was very active. She wanted me to teach her my softball techniques but it was hard because she was right-handed and I am left-handed.

Felicia and her four siblings, including her twin sister, were placed in foster care because of their mom’s addiction to alcohol and drugs. She grew up moving from place to place with her family. A friend of the family ultimately took the kids in, so Felicia stayed with her until she turned 18 years old. At that time, Felicia was also able to make amends with her mom, who has now been sober for 12 years.

Felicia and I followed the same path to college at California State University-Northridge. When I would get down about coursework, she would encourage me: “Having an education, or lack thereof, can affect your day-to-day life,” she would say.

Our college majors complemented each other. She loved liberal arts and studied psychology, hoping to one day be a social worker. She loved to tutor kids in any subject; her favorite was English. Felicia had a passion to help kids find their talent.

Felicia died tragically in a train accident at the Sylmar Station, just a few weeks ago.

I was fortunate to have visited her at her apartment in Long Beach before she passed away.

It was a warm sunny day, with a little breeze as we walked along the beach. She was very happy that I got to spend the afternoon with her – we normally don’t go long without checking up on each other. As we walked toward the beach we talked about what we were going through personally, goals for this years, and reminiscing about our fun times together.

Sunshine Decosta, far left, with friends, including Felicia Smith, far right, at 2016 Christmas event hosted by the United Friends of the Children. Felicia was tragically killed in April. Photo courtesy of Sunshine Decosta

Visiting with her reminded me just how close we had come because of our similar struggles growing up in foster care. I shared with her how important it was she had been by my side through everything and I loved her for that. It makes me sad that she had passion in her voice and was ready to change the world, and now she won’t be here to use it.

I remember us going to a ceremony where we celebrated aging out of the system. We took pictures together, her family and mines.

She obtained two associate degrees and was recently accepted into CSU Dominguez Hills to earn her bachelor’s. Smith accepted Christ at a young age, had a sweet spirit and loved helping people. She always accomplished her goals and would encourage others to do the same.

The 24-year-old also dreamed of starting her own beauty blog. On her social media page she would live by this quote: “Make your life a masterpiece, you only get one canvas.”

She would have been 25 this May 10.

For those within the foster care system, it is important to find someone you can relate to. I went to any social gathering events my social worker at the time would tell me about. Also, know that in hearing other stories, you’ll realize how thankful one can be.

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