Youth Development Spotlight: Sofia Martinez

Sofia Martinez, Youth Development Specialist, fills a room with positive energy. Helping others has always been part of her life.

As a social work student at Radford, she is working with local children and teens through Family Service’s Teen Outreach Program® and Positive Action. Her favorite part of spending time in schools and after school centers is watching youth become engaged in their community and give back.

“One of our students had what we call a ‘break through.’ He helped volunteer at a community event that was aimed at providing a fun play night for children with autism and developmental disorders. He was kind, patient and showed enormous empathy and respect. The Youth Development Team was so proud of him and hope we can continue to be a positive and encouraging force in his life.”

It is her passion for children’s mental health that launched her current transition from healthcare to social work.

Sofia started her career as a Community Health Educator with a non-profit community health center. She helped run a teen-focused program focused on educating teens about sexual health and risky behaviors. Her community shared concerns about teens not getting the information they needed to make safe decisions. Through the program, Sofia worked closely with social workers. She said she saw their valuable contribution to the community’s overall wellness.

Moving from healthcare to social work was a challenging transition, but Sofia said seeing the change in kids is worth it.

A self-described reader, writer, and dreamer, Sofia is currently working to get her social work license. She hopes to continue working in communities by specializing in childhood trauma and grief.

Her number one advice for anyone working to help others is something that was told to her when she was younger.

“Don’t stand still. When I was young, I thought this meant physically keep moving and pushing, but what it really means is to keep growing, keep learning, keep doing. Keep caring and don’t lose your passion.”