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The Teen Toolbox 2013 Accomplishments & Achievements

Published on January 1, 2014 By Nicki Sanders

Hello 2014!  I welcome you with open arms…Packaged for Success and prepared for an extraordinary year!

Here is a look back at 2013 with The Teen Toolbox!


SPOTLIGHT Teen of the Month

  • Manuella
  • Nick
  • Leroy
  • Tony
  • Jahlika
  • Jordan
  • Amber



  • National Executive Youth Leadership Summit
  • On Purpose Networking for Women
  • 33nd Annual MARFY Conference
  • Imagine Foundations at Leeland Public Charter School
  • The Youth Empowerment Telesummit
  • Trinity Washington University
  • Challengers Independent Living Program
  • Glory Soldiers Global



  • Maryland Association of Resources for Families & Youth
  • Coalition of Adoption Programs, Inc.
  • The Maids of Maryland
  • Glory Soldiers Global
  • National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. Prince George’s County Maryland Chapter
  • Watkins Hornets Youth Association
  • Prince George’s Community College student organizations


Supporting Our Community/Exploring Our World

  • 2nd Annual Pack A Backpack Drive
  • 7th Annual Pack A Purse Drive

Pack A Purse™Drive 2013 Thank You

Published on December 30, 2013 By Nicki Sanders

A grand total of 646 bags (purses, tote bags and knapsacks) filled with toiletries were collected and distributed to 18 organizations for JaMai and The Teen Toolbox’s 7th Annual Pack A Purse™ Drive.  We also received 24 cosmetic bags, 8 wallets, 9 scarf sets, 10 pairs of socks, and 86 pairs of winter gloves.



  1. The Children’s Home in Catonsville
  2. RICA, Baltimore
  3. Anne Arundel County Partnership for Youth and Families
  4. Arundel Women’s Housing Shelter
  5. Good Shephard Residential
  6. Maryland Foster Youth Resource Center
  7. Challengers Independent Living Program
  8. Prince George’s County Department of Social Services Independent Living Program
  9. Echelon Community Services
  10. Sasha Bruce Youthwork, Inc.
  11. Coalition of Adoption Programs
  12. Hearts & Homes For Youth
  13. Ionia Whipper House, Inc.
  14. Covenant House Washington
  15. Child and Family Services Administration
  16. DC Family and Youth Initiative
  17. BEST Kids Mentoring Program
  18. Waxter Children’s Center


We are grateful to all who collaborated, supported, promoted, donated, sorted, packed, and delivered purses.
Pack A Purse 2013 results

This Is What I Do

Published on June 3, 2013 By Nicki Sanders

Clarity = clearness or lucidity as to perception or understanding; freedom from indistinctness or ambiguity


I am Nicki Sanders, Chief Visionary Officer of The Teen Toolbox.  I am a youth advocate and life skills expert who uses my Packaged For Success™ program to help teens age 14-21 set goals for life after high school and create a road map to reach those goals. I am especially committed to developing seminars that support teens in foster care in creating life-long connections and achieving economic independence. In addition, she offers professional development training for youth workers and educators.  I  holds Master’s degree in Social Work and have fifteen years of direct experience with youth and families in residential, school-based, and community based programs. 



Positive youth development doesn’t mean that youth are problem free.  Positive youth development means that youth are fully prepared.  I help teen prepare for life on their own.



Share Some Inspiration Today

Published on April 27, 2013 By Nicki Sanders

Many times teens in foster care don’t receive consistent support, encouragement, and nurturing. Here are 21 phrases to uplift, inspire, and celebrate teens in foster care.  Share some today.

  1. You’re important.
  2. Trust yourself.
  3. Stand strong.
  4. It’s great you didn’t give up.
  5. You’re making progress.
  6. I’m proud of you.
  7. I’m inspired by your compassion.
  8. Well done.
  9. That’s a creative solution.
  10. You’ve got what it takes.
  11. I appreciate you.
  12. The best is yet to come.
  13. You make a difference.
  14. You are in a class by yourself.
  15. I admire your strength.
  16. You deserve a hug.
  17. You are a great person.
  18. You will reach your goals.
  19. You always give your best.
  20. You should be proud.
  21. Nothing can stop you.



Nicki Sanders, MSW, Chief Visionary Officer


Published on March 29, 2013 By Nicki Sanders

SPOTLIGHT Teen of the Month – March 2013


Nick N. graduated with his IEP diploma in 2010 and then attended school an additional year to receive his regular diploma in 2011. He is an avid fan of NASCAR, the New York Giants and the New York Yankees.  Nicki enjoys being outdoors.  He works with a local landscaping company where his duties include lawn maintenance, weed-whacking, creating stone ways, and plowing.  Nicki entered foster care in 2008 and has had the privilege of remaining in the same foster home since that time.  He has been described as a kind, “old soul” who has a heart of gold. He is very personable and has matured into a hard worker who loves his family and friends and cherishes his relationships. Nick has created a strong bond with his foster family, caseworker and KidsPeace family.


Nick became a Volunteer Fire Fighter during his senior of high school in 2011.  He was exposed to this industry with his father and other family members and set a goal to join.  Nick is also OSHA, CPR and First Aid trained and has a badge with a fire number.  

Who Taught You About The Real World?

Published on March 13, 2013 By Nicki Sanders

FACT – There is no such thing as a perfect family.


Every relationship and every family has challenges.  Miscommunication, temporary disconnection, hurt feelings, and anger are normal.  It’s how we deal with these issues that matters most.  The goal should be to ensure that we don’t let them take over our lives and ruin our relationships. 


When we think of the families of children in foster care we almost always think of horrific family relationships.  The truth is that children enter the foster care system for a variety of reasons – abuse, neglect, abandonment, death, inability to locate biological relatives, mental illness, and other health conditions. 


FACT – Children and teens in foster care have experienced trauma


  1. The event that results in child welfare involvement is traumatic.
  2. Removal of the child from their home and family is traumatic.
  3. Shuffling a child from home to home and school to school is traumatic.


Let Foster Teens Invite You In

Published on March 6, 2013 By Nicki Sanders

Years ago I was employed as a Family Support Worker in a community-based organization in a section of the city with the highest poverty, teen pregnancy, HIV/STI, drop out, and unemployment rates. Before each family received services I was required to do a home visit. Some of my clients were teen parents and others were grandparents raising their grandkids. Some were involved with child welfare and others were at risk of homelessness due to health conditions. Despite the background or situation of any of my clients, every home visit started the same way.
1. Ring doorbell or knock on door
2. Greet person who comes to door and introduce myself
3. Wait to be invited to come inside or ask if I can enter
4. Wait to be invited to sit down


You would be annoyed if you opened your front door for the pizza delivery guy and he walked straight into your kitchen, right? I never entered a home without being invited to come in either. I waited for an invitation not only as a safety precaution but to show respect. Degrees, job descriptions, and case files don’t build strong working relationships. I believe all relationships should be built on the foundation of respect. Everyone wants and deserves to be respected.