Today is the day. May 1st marks the beginning of National Foster Care Month. This entire month is dedicated to showcasing that each of us can play a part in enhancing the lives of children and youth in foster care.
National Foster Care Month also provides an opportunity for acknowledging the thousands of dedicated foster families and other caring individuals and organizations who are already supporting youth in foster care. We can never publicly recognize all the agencies supporting these young people. We will highlight various agencies throughout National Foster Care Month.
Join Nicki Sanders and The Teen Toolbox at the National Executive Youth Leadership Summit (NEYLS) on May 4, 2013.
The NEYLS is held annually on the first Saturday of May in Washington, D.C. on Capitol Hill. The summit is generously sponsored by various Members of Congress and hosted by Friends of Chonya Johnson, who are public servants/leaders from congressional offices, federal/state agencies, nonprofit organizations and the business community in the Washington DC Metro area. Our purpose is to promote civic participation, leadership development and provide resources to educate, motivate and empower youth to reach their full potential. Our participants will have an exciting opportunity to learn from international – national leaders, public officials, and other youth leaders from around the country.
We surpassed our National Foster Care Awareness Month First Annual Pack A Backpack Drive™ goal by collecting 46 backpacks filled with personal hygiene items to teen males in foster homes, group homes, and homeless shelters during the month of May 2012. Thanks to our amazing donors, the backpacks were donated to KidsPeace, Prince George’s County Department of Social Services Independent Living Program, Hearts & Homes For Youth, DC Family and Youth Initiative and KOBA Institute, Inc, in the Washington Metropolitan area. Brooke Boersma hosted a drive on the west coast and delivered 10 backpacks to Creative Alternativesin Turlock, CA. Please our Pack A Backpack™ page for more information.
We are grateful to our generous donors. Thank you:
Our final blog post for our National Foster Care Month blog series on teen males is a profile of foster care alumni and Foster Focus Magazine publisher Christopher Chmielewski. Christopher was adopted at an early age and grew up in the “coal region” of Pennsylvania. He entered foster care as a teen and eventually “aged-out” of the system. Once Christopher aged out of foster care, he was expelled from school just a few weeks short of his high school graduation. This did not deter Christopher from continuing his education. He received his equivalency diploma and registered for college the day after achieving this goal. Christopher could have remained in foster care until age 21 but elected to leave because he had begun to feel like a burden on the foster parents who welcomed him into their family.
Rich Korb is an author and educator with 34 years experience working with youth in traditional and alternative schools, residential facilities, and juvenile detention centers. He has also served as an athletic coach. Rich is known as the “Behavior Answer Man”. He shares his wisdom through Pioneer Education Consulting.
As an Educator and Administrator he has supported youth in foster care to breakdown barriers to learning that include special education, school disruptions, and risk of drop out. Rich operates by the motto “creativity is necessary for success”. He says there is no youngster he can’t reach and no situation he won’t take on. This belief system has lead to his success with youth and is the foundation for his six step approach to youth engagement. The six steps are:
Our National Foster Care Awareness Month blog series on teen males continues with George Fraser. George Fraser is a successful business man, renowned speaker, and author of three books. He is the founder of the annual PowerNetworking Conference, the largest gathering of Black professionals, business owners and community leaders.
George Fraser was born in Brooklyn New York into a family of 11 children. George and his siblings were placed in foster care after his mother became mentally ill. George was four years old at the time. His father was a cab driver and unable to care for the children alone.
George believes that most foster parents are good people who really want to help kids. He grew up in a foster home with a mother and a father that instilled basic foundational values including family and education. The couple loved and cared for him like he was their own. Today George is a huge proponent of education but admits that he was a mediocre student who was bored by traditional education. When I asked George what we can do to better support teen males, he responded “be sure they can read, comprehend what they read, and write well.” He believes that once youth are able to read and write on grade level they are able to think critically, then plan and move forward.
Exavier Pope owns The Pope Law Firm. He is a Sports & Entertainment Attorney, Media Personality, Fortune 500 Speaker and Peak Performance Strategist, Writer, Economic Developer, and former foster youth. Exavier shared his amazing story for our National Foster Care Awareness Month blog series on teen males.
Exavier’s foster mother, Emma Lily Mitchell, declared to him that it was his “God given right and destiny to become someone of great influence to impact change.” Exavier’s father was a pimp and his mother was a prostitute. Exavier, his twin sister, and older brother entered Ms. Mitchell’s home when Exavier was six weeks old. They remained in Ms. Mitchell’s care until Exavier was seven years old. Between the ages of seven and nine years old, they lived in an abusive home with their biological mother. At nine years old the children requested to return to Ms. Mitchell’s home and their request was granted.