Markaya is a strong, confident individual who started out shy and very quiet. When Markaya came into COACH she was excited to be out in the community and reconnect with old classmates, while making new friends. Initially she sat and observed while she found her footing in the group. Through discussions about her dreams for the future, it was determined Markaya was an avid animal lover. Her passion for animals is one that cannot be matched. Through her loving smile and peaceful demeanor, she takes caring for animals as serious as caring for herself. This once shy young woman who didn’t speak many words, found her voice at Bluebird Gap Farm working along with staff. She took the time to learn all the skills necessary to run the farm. Markaya transformed from a farm worker, to a farm leader who is able to share her knowledge with others. She went from being given a list of tasks and quietly completing them, to using her voice to ask for extra things to do. Instead of being the person someone needed to approach for her to speak, she began speaking to people across the farm. She found her voice and has used it to advocate for herself, to discuss her likes and dislikes and give comfort to everyone who needs it.

Using her voice, she has asked to be placed at multiple sites and has been successful at each. She has volunteered at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Hampton Mayor’s Book Club, Serve the City, Hampton Roads Urban Agriculture, and SPCA. She is currently awaiting placement anywhere she can work with and mentor children. Markaya stays on top of her schedule and all activities she would like to participate in for the month. If she has a question, she reaches out to staff via video message so that she is only depending on herself for answers, not her mother.