Recipient of AFJ/Andrew Glover Youth Program’s Outstanding Youth Award, 2006 (Watch Elsie tell her story.)
Growing up in the projects, Elsie Flores had absolutely no one to turn to. Her mother was so involved with drinking that she left Elsie to the streets at age 10. Her aunt spent 15 years in prison for attempted murder. Her grandfather murdered her grandmother and then killed himself in prison. And Elsie never knew her father.
Blend that story with the surroundings of the housing projects, and you can guess what happened next. Elsie started selling drugs at age 13, and at age 16, she was arrested for selling drugs to an undercover detective. Two weeks after this arrest, she found out she was pregnant.
Suddenly, Elsie was looking at up to six years in prison. Her baby would be born behind bars. But instead, on her way to the judge, Avenues for Justice intervened and she was mandated to our services instead of jail.
Her Court Advocate, Nelson Valentine, proved that people in this world cared about what she did with her life and gave her a long list of requirements, including curfew. Backed by this daily guidance and intensive support, Elsie decided that she could be a good parent to her future child. She earned her high school diploma while juggling a job plus daily participation in programs at AFJ's Robert Siegal Community Center in the Lower East Side
After working as a pharmacist’s technician at a national drugstore chain, Elsie took a job at a health clinic at Washington Irving High School on the Lower East Side. In 2006, she started at night school and in 2009, received her Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from the ASA Institute. In 2010, Elsie joined AFJ as a Court Advocate. In 2020, she received her Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice from John Jay College.
Hear Elsie talk about turning her life around: