Because I know how much you love our Launch Pad residents, I wanted to tell you about an inspiring interaction I had last week.
I touched base with Lizzie, who will earn her A.A. in Early Childhood Development in May from Orange Coast College. It’s something she says she never would have imagined for herself when she joined the Launch Pad community. Growing up, Lizzie bounced between foster care and her grandparents’ home. Betrayed by family relationships, she set out on her own, completing her last year in high school while essentially squatting at a foreclosed home and making do with handouts from friends.
“I thought this was just going to be another program, but I was wrong,” Lizzie told me about her Launch Pad experience. “The program was more than a community, they became my family. Without their encouragement, I would not have found the strength to accomplish many of the things I have.”
Lizzie’s volunteer “Flight Crew” – which has grown to include her mentor, budget coach, life group leader, school counselor, and former employer – has been committed to her success. With their support, Lizzie enrolled at OCC, taking the bus to classes as well as to her first part-time job (located in the opposite direction from home and school). She learned to drive with the help of yet another volunteer, and then saved up to buy a car. Most recently, she’s been working OCC’s on-campus child care center, doing what she loves most. The best part is that Lizzie was baptized by her life group leader a few years back.
“Due to their persistence to help and get to know me, I was able to believe that I deserve better. I also have the right to feel safe and happy,” Lizzie said. “I thought I only needed a roof over my head to feel safe, but … they showed me that in order to feel safe I had to start trusting myself again, and they gave me the strength to do so.”
We’ll certainly be celebrating Lizzie at her graduation in June, though she’s not stopping there – with a goal of a bachelor’s degree, Lizzie will start at Cal State Fullerton in August.
It’s through the continued support of each of you and your Church community that Lizzie’s life, one of many at The Launch Pad, trajectory has been changed dramatically. We are grateful for our continued partnership and look forward to future celebrations.
Continue to be the Church in Action,
Kathy has been mentoring with Teen Leadership Foundation for over a year. Kathy first met TLF at Teen Leadership Camp in 2015. She left that experience excited and ready to mentor her camper.
Unfortunately, her camper’s caregivers were not open to mentorship—as a mentor and person, Kathy had to learn that is not a reflection of her, but rather the complication that comes with foster care, foster youth, and all involved.
Kathy stuck with TLF, though, and we introduced her to Joy that November. Right off the bat, Kathy noticed the hygiene challenges of her mentee—a common issue with former group home residences. She began delicate conversations around self-care, empowering her mentee to focus on what makes her feel beautiful versus her insecurities and fears. They began to research fun at-home facials, and focused on building Joy’s friendship circles.
It was tough at first, for Kathy to initiate such sensitive topics, of course; but Kathy’s courage has produced a sincere and vulnerable connection with her mentee.
Recently she said, “I just know the Lord orchestrated this journey I’m on. From TLF…to having [my camper’s] caretaker not allow a mentor, to me saying ‘forget it…’ to your emails telling me not to give-up, but to consider another child, to meeting ‘J’. I am really enjoying my time with [my mentee], and I hope I’ve been a good mentor [to her]. The Lord has blessed me by putting her in my life.
Kathy is now one our loudest voices at her church in support of mentorship.
Interested in learning more about mentoring? Come to our next training and find out how you can change a local former foster youth’s life!
We recently introduced a new mentor and mentee at Starbucks. The mentee, we will call her Sarah, shared how her and her brother were put in foster care in elementary school. Not more than a year later they were adopted together by couple in Orange. Trusting family-relationships grew quick and easily but there has always been an internal struggle of confusion for Sarah and her brother. They went from having nothing to having everything, overnight. And, although that might sound like a dream, they lived on edge with worry that everything they have been given could be taken from them.
In high school Sarah’s brother decided to push the envelope as far as he could. He became a drug user and dealer. His family attachments fell apart as did his grades and his opportunities for a college scholarship. Sarah was hurt and mad about her brother’s decisions and wasn’t sure how to relate to her adoptive parents anymore; she felt torn between bio-bonds with her brother and what she knew was right. She became very introverted, distant and numb. Her grades plummeted as she tried to reconcile all the confusion in her mind and heart. During the turmoil, she began seeing her therapist, and found some clarity and peace in how to organize her emotions.
Now she is trying to rebound from the months and months of depression and despair. Sarah asked for help studying, specifically English and Economics. She wants to go to college and she knows those two grades are important.
Her new mentor, Lori, happened to excel in English throughout college. Without our help at all, they created their study plan and decided on their next meet up date.
We followed up with Lori a week later and heard about a wonderful study session. Sarah brought all her deadlines with her and the assignments she was working on. They completed a few together and Sarah made sure to lock in their next study date. Lori feels so validated, appreciated and honored to have space to love Sarah. Sarah’s therapist sent us an email talking about how excited she is to have a mentor…someone who is there for her; unpaid, with no obligations outside of her own heart. She is not an extension of the court or her parents. She is just well-intentioned and desperate to see Sarah succeed, and this is going to change her life forever.
For more information on how you can become a mentor and change a former foster youth’s life, check out the calendar for our next mentor training.