Maria Reynoso is the Youth Services Program Manager and serves youth in a variety of capacities, including case management. What deeply connects Maria to her work and youth is her personal story as a troubled youth herself. When she was younger, she was involved in precarious situations that, if it wasn’t for the help of organizations similar to Soulciety, would have taken her on a drastically different life path than the one she is on now.
Given the level of engagement that Maria has with her youth, times of stress occur when the youth experience unpredictable and difficult circumstances that hinder their growth or when she helps her youth navigate the juvenile justice system that she states can be “a close-minded system” where “traditional ways of seeing and understanding the demographic at hand” discourages youth from moving forward. However difficult certain cases can be, her youth are a constant source of inspiration. “There’s always hope and an ability within us all to get over our fears,” is a lesson that Maria has learned from her youth, and those words are what underlie her work, even when situations aren’t always easy. When the self-esteem of a youth is significantly affected by the juvenile probation system, she uses that as an opportunity to help him/her realize the potential they possess, but don’t often see, through caring case management and thoughtful job placement that’s based on the passions and/or long-term goals held by the youth.
Maria’s dedicated service to the youth of our community has truly changed lives. Just recently, she received a phone call expressing gratitude from her former youth that was deported while in juvenile detention. Upon her youth’s return to the U.S., Maria assisted her in acquiring resources that would help her become financially stable. Her youth is now fully employed and happily raising her daughter.
Maria holds a Bachelors of Arts in Criminal Justice and an AA in Behavioral Sciences.