Dorchester native Amnoni Myers spent the first twelve years of her life in a troubled home on Wolcott Street in Dorchester before she was split away from her siblings and put into the foster care system.
While navigating succeeding homes, Myers managed to graduate from Gordon College in 2014 and later earned a master’s in public administration from Baruch College.
She also found her way to Capitol Hill in Washington, where she wrote and presented a policy report to members of Congress on trauma-informed training for foster parents. She also interned in the Obama White House, where she pushed for the improvement of the American foster care system.
Now she has a new memoir out entitled, “You Are The Prize: Seeing Yourself Beyond the Imperfections of Your Trauma.” She said that she wrote it “to share my story in a way that could inspire other people, especially young people who have gone through the child welfare system.
“Oftentimes, when you go through something at a young age, you can feel broken into many different pieces.”
She hopes that her book will enable “young people to recognize and live in their wholeness despite any challenges they might’ve gone through, with the recognition that they are the prize.”
The title is based on something her little sister once told her. “I always look for things that have meaning.” Noted Myers: “When she said those words to me, it had meaning.”
That little sister, Ebony, passed away unexpectedly in 2017. While working through her grief, Myers decided to write “You Are The Prize.”
“When she passed away, it took another form of meaning for me,” Myers said. “One of the things I think about is that my sister experienced group homes. She experienced homelessness. She experienced substance use challenges. She experienced domestic violence. She experienced a host of different challenges. She was in treatment centers. She was in mental health facilities. She may even have had some experiences in the criminal justice system—I’m not completely sure.”
Like her big sister, Ebony was an avid reader. “It was a way for me to relate to the experiences that were happening,” Myers said. “I think of young people who don’t always feel like they have hope. I’d like to see my book in many of these spaces so that as young people encounter really difficult things, and things they don’t have control over, they’re able to pick up my book and read it and see themselves in our story and see that it can get better.”
Myers also hopes to encourage support for the success of children in foster care. “Having access to resources and opportunities is something you’ve got to talk about,” she said. In particular, she stressed the importance of collaboration between schools, the foster care system, and care providers.
Myers plans to donate a portion of her proceeds from the 190-page book to Epiphany School in Dorchester, where Ebony attended middle school. When the sisters were first separated into different foster homes, Ebony’s teacher, and Epiphany’s current principal, Dr. Michelle Sanchez, provided space for them to see each other at the school on a regular basis.
Sharing her story in a way that helps others, Myers said, has been cathartic. “It’s okay to not always be okay,” she said. “Looking back on my experiences and realizing that I was able to navigate and survive through it, I’m going through this new process of healing.”
“You Are The Prize” is now available in paperback on Amazon.