Helping Foster Children - You and Children's Fund Together
The ideal life of a child is one that consists of nurture and love. Many children are fortunate enough to have that and more, but others are abused, neglected, or impoverished. When children are taken away from those harsh environments and put into the foster youth system, it is a drastic change. This change can cause children to become confused and overwhelmed. Luckily, there are people who volunteer and help children cope with such situations.
A perfect example of a wonderful volunteer who has guided foster children is Martha Cardonas, the Deputy District Attorney in the Crimes Against Children Unit. Her job has allowed her to become very involved in the lives of many children, and heightened her interest in volunteering. Martha is now a CASA Volunteer/ Project Graduate Mentor. She donates her time to help foster youth work through their problems and further their education.
Martha was recently paired with a high school senior, Ramedy, who was considering a college education. She had maintained a 3.5 GPA during high school, in hopes of going to college and becoming a Physician’s Assistant. Ramedy applied to multiple universities such as Cal State Fullerton, Cal State San Bernardino, Cal Poly Pomona, and UC San Diego.
Martha wanted Ramedy to feel like she could talk to her without judging. Martha believes that a teenager will become motivated if they find a mentor who not only listens to them, but shows that they believe in them. Martha helped Ramedy throughout the university application process. With no transportation to the different universities, Martha offered to take her to the campus tours. “I really felt that it gave us a chance to bond,” says Martha. “Ramedy opened up to me about her personal life, and I felt like I really got to know who she was as a person. It was so exciting to see her eyes light up when we reached the campuses.” The bond formed enabled them to attend different events which made their relationship even stronger.
Cardonas was the first person Ramedy called when receiving her acceptance letter. Martha and Ramedy remain close and talk often. “I couldn’t be more proud of Ramedy, and all that she’s accomplished in the face of so much adversity throughout her life,” gleams Martha. Her accomplishments show how hard work and dedication are key to a person’s success. Ramedy has worked extremely hard, and Martha has the joy to mentor her along the way.
Ramedy’s success makes it evident that helping foster children really does make a difference in their lives. By obtaining the proper guidance and mentorship, they too can further their education and succeed in life. Children’s Fund has the power to help change the lives of these resilient kids. We not only show them that someone cares about them, but we also give them a chance at a brighter future.
For information on how you can become a mentor for a foster child, please call us at 909.379.0000.
Future Child Welfare Social Worker
Update October 2014: Jahara Tinsley has recently graduated from UCLA with a
Masters of Social Welfare! Way to go!
Jahara Tinsley has come a long way from her days as a foster youth. Jahara’s ultimate
goal is to obtain her Ph.D. in social work. Earning her baccalaureate degree in Social
Work in 2012 at Cal State University - San Bernardino, Jahara believes that education is
the key to continue success. As the second oldest of seven children, Jahara believes
that it is imperative for her to serve as a positive role model to her siblings.
Everyone who has crossed Jahara’s path knows she is dedicated to attaining her
educational goals. Jahara was invited to participate in the EOP Foster Youth
Program at Cal State University - San Bernardino and was granted the
opportunity to be assigned a peer mentor during her freshman year. “This program
has provided me with direction, encouragement, life-long friendships and a sense
of community,” says Jahara. “My experience as a mentee inspired me to serve as
a mentor for first-year incoming former foster youth.”
And her involvement doesn’t stop there. Jahara has been actively engaged with
community life by participating in student organizations such as Future Social Workers
in Action, Enrichment through Action, and the Phi Alpha Honor Society. She also volunteered with the Life Changing Mentorship Program. "We are so proud of what Jahara has accomplished so far, and it is wonderful that she is dedicated to give back so that other foster youth will benefit from her experience," states President & CEO of Children's Fund.
Jahara understands what it is like to be a former foster youth and has made her life mission to serve others. She has a particular interest in Child Welfare, where she can work with and serve families that require assistance. "Because of the support of Children's Fund, I am able to continue to pursue my goals in hope to give back to others, just as Children's Fund has done for me.
A 'Boarder' with Big Dreams
Curtis Stephens longed to be a typical 11-year-old, doing the things that young boys do like running, skateboarding and playing basketball. But his doctors and physical therapists had given up hope, saying that the young man would never take more than a few shaky steps due to a diagnosis of cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy (CP) is a disorder that affects muscle tone, movement, and motor skills. Currently there is no cure for CP, and treatment involves therapy, special equipment and surgery.
Curtis was determined to defy his prognosis and to throw down his crutches. With a determined heart and mind, Curtis told everyone he would walk again. Little did Curtis or his doctors imagine that his hope would come in the form of a typical skateboard. Curtis had received the skateboard from Children’s Fund during the Annual Celebration of Giving Campaign. Each year, through the combined efforts of many, Children’s Fund is able to ensure that over 30,000 at-risk children in San Bernardino County receive a gift during the month of December. Each gift serves as a reminder to the vulnerable at-risk youth served by the campaign that they are never forgotten.
Children’s Fund, and even Curtis, could not have envisioned how life-changing a single skateboard could become. “He practices around three hours a day,” said physical therapist Lori Dean. “He just has so much drive.” Three months after receiving the skateboard, 11-year-old Curtis’ gross motor skills began to improve. Previously able to walk only five steps, the boy, quickly passed 10 steps, then 20 and 30, and even the 50-step mark. There is real hope that Stephens’ dream of walking without crutches may someday come true. “We were pretty much resigned that he wasn’t going to walk,” said his mother Cathy Croel. “Now I think he’s going to walk, all because of a skateboard.”
A Winning Smile
Terry Hill was just your typical teenage boy, that is until March 2005. While walking across the street he was struck by a car. Terry lost the front row of his teeth and part of the pallet in his mouth was severely damaged in the accident.
Being an at-risk child, Terry’s Denti-Cal insurance did not cover orthodontia. Due to a lack of funds, Terry was forced to rely on local orthodontists to provide him with dentures. Humiliated and self-conscious, he hid from friends hoping that they would never notice his dentures. He wouldn’t smile or talk, and tried his best to hide them out of shame. This is when Children's Fund was able to help. Terry’s case manager submitted the necessary referral to Children’s Fund, and we were privileged to assist Terry in receiving permanent bridges and permanent implants.
The funding Children’s Fund was able to provide has made a significant difference in Terry’s life. He no longer fears spending time with friends, has gained the confidence to start dating, and has even had the courage to interview for and attain a job! The fundamental impact that the assistance Children’s Fund provided was summed up best by the young man himself, “Most of all, I can now smile with confidence and say thank you Children’s Fund for opening up this new world for me, and for giving me a second chance!”
Richard Burgess was a child in the system, learning to cope with difficult situations. His dad was an alcoholic and his mother was addicted to methamphetamines. Richard relied on his sisters Christina and Angelina for support.
Things escalated and the three children entered the foster care system. As time passed, Richard was not learning to cope with his feelings and started acting out. The foster home organization decided to send Richard to a group home in Perris, CA called the Ranch. At that time, Richard was not doing well in school and his first night at the group home became a turning point in this young man’s life. In his own words Richard detailed his feelings that night, “I thought to myself that I can’t go on like this, I had to do something about it, and only I could change the path that my life is leading. So I made a vow to myself that I was going to prove to everyone that we control every aspect of our life. I can’t blame my parents or the worst group home therapist that I ever had, I had to do everything on my own, after all I considered myself a man, so I had to act like one.”
Entering his last year in high school Richard began to pay attention in his classes and found that most of the subjects were actually interesting. With the support of organizations like Children’s Fund, Richard worked hard, earning good grades in all of his classes and taking extra classes after school. At the end of the year, Richard earned his diploma, determined to make it in life. After graduation Richard turned eighteen and emancipated out of the county system. He exited the group home and got into an apartment through Cameron Hills After Care and joined the California Conservation Core, getting paid as a firefighter.
Children’s Fund is proud to support Richard, and the thousands of children just like him, in achieving their dreams. We are pleased that our loyal donors were there to give Richard and his sisters the courage and dedication it takes to move beyond from a difficult period.