Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Spotlight on Ohio Youth: Antonio Frierson

From the time that I have met Antonio (“Tone”) Frierson, I have found him to be steadfast, reliable and sincere. Tone is dedicated to the people he loves and the causes to which he has dedicated his heart. His deepest desire is to increase the amount of resources available for the Ohio’s 1,300 youth who “age out” of foster care each year.

I first met Antonio in 2008, at a teen event in Cleveland for teens in foster care. He and his fellow members of TAGyc, Cuyahoga County Children Services teen advisory group/youth council, were presenting an Orientation to Emancipation. One of the first things I noticed was the passion, energy and creativity of the activities, and Tone’s infectious sense of humor.

Our paths continued to cross during Teen Fairs for foster youth, annual FCAA Ohio Thanksgiving dinners for young people in and from foster care, and statewide Independent Living Summits. I watched Tone reaching out to younger foster care youth, and encouraging them to make good choices. I witnessed him advocating for better resources for young people transitioning from foster care to adulthood, particularly regarding housing.

As I grew to know Antonio better, I saw glimpses of his serious side. I heard him speak from the heart at events for foster youth. I saw his desire to constantly grow and learn new things. I witnessed his heartfelt appreciation and acknowledgement of every person who built into his life, including and especially Cuyahoga County caseworker, Seanine Cook.

This fall, as I listened to Antonio participate on a radio interview by Public News Service, I continued to be impressed by his positive attitude and vision for the future. Having benefitted from Seanine Cook’s role as a mentor in his life, Tone now wants to be a role model to foster youth, and to increase the circle of support available in each youth’s life.

I believe that Tone has the capacity to ignite a spark of passion and energy in every person he touches.

(But I'm still not sure why Tone looks like he is in heaven in this picture :)

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