We all want to belong – to be accepted in a group. We want to socialize and hang out with people with whom we have common interests. These desires play out in different ways – enjoying a sleepover with friends, good times sharing a cabin at summer camp, and partying in a college dorm room. When the fun subsides and enough is enough you want to go home right? Teens in foster care are more likely to be placed in institutional settings like group homes instead of being placed in home environments. For many teens, their group home experience isn’t exciting or relaxing and they don’t have another home to retreat to when they need or want privacy, encouragement, or a little quiet time.
I tuned in to Oprah’s Lifeclass: The Tour with Bishop TD Jakes this past Monday night and was delighted to learn about Jimmy Graham, tight end for the NFL New Orleans Saints. I’m not a football fan but I am an advocate for youth in foster care and I was captivated as Jimmy shared his experience as a teen in the system.
If you’ve been following our blog, you know that we are commemorating National Foster Care Awareness Month 2012 with a focus on teen males in the foster care system. We are raising awareness about the needs of teen males in the foster care system in two special ways:
(1) Hosting our First Annual Pack A Backpack Drive to donate backpacks and personal hygiene items to teen males in foster care
(2) Using our BLOG as a platform to share real life stories about teen males who are about to age out of the foster care system and foster parents who are helping teen males successfully transition into adulthood
Since 2007, JaMai has been collecting and delivering purses packed with personal care items to teenage girls in foster care, in group homes, and in homeless shelters. Her project is known as Pack A Purse Holiday Drive™. Although JaMai was away at school until early December and I was unable to handle the physical tasks of organizing our 5th Annual Pack A Purse Drive, 2011 was our best year ever. This year another sponsor, The Maids of Maryland, came on board. I want to take this opportunity to send a special thank you to The Maids of Maryland and Linda Crosby who were able to garner print and television media coverage and collect 578 purses at their host site. They also delivered over 200 of those purses. We would also like to send a shout out to Sabrina McLean who donated to Pack A Purse, served as a host site, and delivered purses to 3 organizations. Another heartfelt thank you goes to Cindy Freland who also donated to the holiday drive and served as a host site. A grand total of 735 purses were donated to the following organizations: