She is the first in her family to graduate from high school. Recently she received her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology...
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Orangewood Children's Foundation Success Stories
Children’s Trust Fund – Scholarships
The following are just a few examples of recent success stories of young adults who have received Children’s Trust Fund scholarships:
At age twelve, Tracy was placed into protective custody due to an abusive and neglectful home environment. She grew up in a series of foster homes. Thanks to scholarships from the Children’s Trust Fund, Tracy is a graduate from University of California, Irvine. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Business Management, and was on the Dean’s Honor List throughout her college career. During that time Tracy also participated as an Orangewood Peer Mentor. As a mentor, she served as a positive role model for teenagers residing at Orangewood Children’s Home and provided leadership at workshops for other young adults like her. Tracy is now continuing her education, pursuing a doctoral degree in Psychology.
Eddie came to be an Orangewood child at the age of two as a result of his mother’s death. He resided in six different foster homes before finding a loving and stable foster family at age 15. He personally initiated placement with his foster family and has continued to have a close relationship with them. With financial help from a Children’s Trust Fund scholarship, Eddie earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education and Business. He maintained a 2.5 GPA and was very involved in school activities while holding a part-time job. Eddie’s plans for the future are to obtain a job teaching and coaching sports.
Children’s Trust Fund – Grants
The following are just a few examples of recent success stories of children who have received Children’s Trust Fund grants:
Soccer camp for Aaron, age 9
Aaron was removed from the care of both his mother and grandmother four years ago when he was only five. He was being abused and neglected because of their drug usage. Through participation in the team sport, Aaron has been able to improve his ability to relate positively to other children.
Swimming lessons for Michelle, age 4
Michelle was placed in foster care as an infant due to abuse and neglect from her violent father and drug-addicted mother. The lessons provided a much needed summer activity for the active preschooler.
6th grade science camp for Samantha, age 13
Samantha was removed from the care of both her mother and grandmother when each was arrested and jailed. When she changed to a new school, her foster parents learned of the camp but were unable to save the money needed in time. The Children’s Trust Fund allowed her to participate in the camp with her peers.
Therapeutic toys for Anthony, age 4
Anthony was severely abused by his parents. He has been with his foster family for 7 months and is thriving but developmentally delayed. Orangewood was able to provide the family with therapeutic toys and items recommended by Anthony’s speech therapist.
Karate lessons for Bailey, age 4, and Derek, age 7
The siblings were removed from their home 3 ½ years ago due to abuse and neglect by drug-addicted parents. The karate lessons help the youngsters build coordination and self-confidence.
Guardian Scholars Program
The following are just a few examples of recent success stories of Orangewood Guardian Scholars:
Patty is a shining example to many around her. However most important is her being a good role model for her younger brothers and sisters. She is the first in her family to graduate from high school. Recently she received her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a minor in Political Science as a Guardian Scholar at U.C. Irvine.
Patty and her siblings were brought to the Orangewood Children’s Home when she was 16. After three weeks at the Home, she was placed with a foster family until she turned 18. After high school graduation she attended University of Portland for two years, returning then to Southern California where she became an Orangewood Scholar at UCI. She is also a Peer Mentor and says of that role, “I feel that I have been able to impact the lives of the youth we serve, even if in a small way.”
Despite working at various part-time jobs in college, Patty expects to finish college with a 3.1 GPA. During college, Patty developed an interest in housing issues and has volunteered for Habitat For Humanity for several years. She’d like to find a position in a city housing program and may one day pursue a Masters degree in urban planning.
Of the Guardian Scholars program, Patty is thankful for the financial assistance and especially compliments UCI staff member Joe Maestas. Joe helped her utilize various campus resources: identifying on-campus employment opportunities, finding professors to talk to regarding possible career paths and identifying educational possibilities. Of her accomplishments Patty again focuses on her family saying, “I feel great about setting a good example for my younger siblings.”
Even before Amber assumed her role as a freshman college student, she was also filling a role as teacher. It was her housing predicament in the summer before college that opened the Foundation’s eyes to the challenges former foster youth face in pursuing a college education.
Amber was 12 years old when she was brought to the Orangewood Children’s Home. She stayed at the Home for a month and then was placed into foster care. Over the next five years, she was placed in several group homes. After high school, Amber decided to pursue a college education at Cal. State Univ. Fullerton. Through the help of Children’s Trust Fund scholarships and the Guardian Scholars Program, Amber received her Bachelors degree in June. Majoring in Human Services, she finished her college career with an impressive 3.2 GPA.
Amber’s academic pursuits didn’t stop at college however. She has been accepted to Cal. State Univ. Long Beach’s Masters in Social Work program and will be starting the two-year program in the fall. When finished she plans on working in child public welfare. She’s particularly interested in family reunification, adoption or other family and children’s issues.
About the Guardian Scholars program Amber says, “It meant a lot to me. Not just the money but also the huge support system. There’s a sense of security that’s hard to obtain.” She quickly adds her praise too for Foundation board member, Ron Davis, who was instrumental in the creation of the Guardian Scholars program at CSUF: “Ron Davis is wonderful. He’s very real and honest and has a huge heart. He’s a role model for what one person can accomplish.”
Amber summarizes her thoughts about the Guardian Scholars Program, “There were all these people who wanted me to succeed and believed I could. It’s amazing the program even exists.”
Independent Living Program
The following is just one example of a recent success story of a youth helped by the Independent Living Program:
Jimmy was placed in Orangewood Children’s Home at the age of 14. At that time, his mother was in jail and his aunt, with whom he and his sister were staying, was using drugs. Over the next four years, he lived in six different group homes, returned to Orangewood Children’s Home once and was placed in a foster home.
For the past two years, he has been a regular participant in Independent Living Program workshops and special events. Jimmy was even voted mayor of the 2002 Independent City. Through ILP, he has learned about housing options, shopping, paying bills and other valuable skills in preparation for emancipation. “There’s no one else to teach you these things,” he said. “And ILP is a chance to earn money while meeting other foster care kids and Foundation staff.” Jimmy is currently finishing high school while working full-time at a veterinary clinic. He plans to attend a community college in the fall and transfer to Cal. Poly Pomona in a year or two. He hopes to become a K-9 police officer.
Elsa was first referred to the Independent Living Coach Program in October 2002. At 18, she had recently been released from the foster care system (she had entered the system three years earlier due to parental neglect). Shy and soft spoken, Elsa had a very difficult time articulating her needs. Independent Living Coach Rachelle Collins and Elsa worked together to identify some of Elsa’s immediate needs – access to medical care and transportation. Elsa needed treatment for multiple ailments but had never used public transportation and had no other means of getting to a local hospital. Rachelle assisted Elsa with establishing the free medical benefits for which she qualified as a former foster youth and scheduled an urgent care appointment. Rachelle drove her to several doctor’s appointments and together they established a routine that would help Elsa take her medication consistently.
Elsa also needed a better living situation. She was living in a one-bedroom apartment with a friend and three other people, including two men who had made advances toward her. She did not feel safe in her apartment and was frustrated that the process of finding housing through another agency was slow. Within days, Rachelle worked with the agency to obtain a list of housing options for Elsa. Rachelle drove Elsa to a variety of homes and residential programs until Elsa selected one. Within two weeks, Elsa moved into her own room in a new home that included food and a monetary stipend.
Next Elsa needed clothing and personal care products. With the assistance of Orangewood’s Children’s Trust Fund, Elsa purchased new clothing and hygiene products. Later, Orangewood donors “adopted” Elsa for the December holidays, providing her with a variety of gifts including, a CD player, new clothes, towels and sheets, hair products, perfume, and food and clothing gift certificates.
As Elsa settled into her new home, she expressed sadness at not having ongoing contact with her younger sister who was still in the foster care system. Rachelle contacted the girl’s social worker to inquire about authorizing ongoing visits between the sisters. Elsa was granted overnight visits with her sister on the weekends. Rachelle also linked Elsa with a youth mental health services agency for weekly therapeutic sessions to help her cope with her feelings.
Together and in just a few short months, Elsa and Rachelle have made critical improvements in Elsa’s life for both the short- and long-term. Elsa’s story exemplifies the versatility and individualized care that the Independent Living Coaches provide Orange County youth as they leave the foster care system. Rachelle and fellow Coach, Steve Liapis, attribute their success as Coaches to “being a good listener, resourceful, fun, interested, focused, flexible, persistent, realistic, patient, maintaining a sense of humor and never giving up!”