The idea for "HEART" was conceived during the Spring of 1991 on the lower span of the
San Francisco Bay Bridge. Evelyn Polk and colleague Karen McCord, counselors and adoptive parents both, were returning from a planning meeting for an Adoption Fair. While driving, they shared their concerns that it was not enough to simply RECRUIT adoptive parents for waiting children, but that it was equally important to prepare parents and children for the behavioral and emotional challenges they would almost certainly encounter as new adoptive families.
Acting upon the premise that adoption is not a "... and they lived happily ever after" fairytale, that Fall Evelyn established "For a Child's H.E.A.R.T." The name was based on a wonderfully memorable moment with her foster son, in which he told her that she made his heart warm.
She became committed to the idea that every endeavor of her new organization would serve
to warm children's hearts.
"HEART" started with Evelyn providing consultations, trainings and workshops to caregivers and other adults working with children in out-of-home care. Services were also contracted to provide in-home support services to foster/adoptive families.
In the summer of 1992 an office was secured at 409 Boyd Street in Vacaville, and an adoptive parents support group was formed. In November of 1992, the first-annual Adoption Awareness Month Celebration was held at the Vacaville Community Center, now known as the
Three Oaks Community Center.
By 1993 Evelyn had earned her license as a Marriage, Family & Child Counselor (MFCC), and she expanded the services of "HEART" to include individual and group therapy with children and families referred by County and private home-finding and placement agencies.
In September of 1993, a group of community members began to meet on a monthly basis to incorporate the organization, and in March of 1994 "HEART" was established as a California State Non-Profit Corporation. It's inaugural Board consisted of five members: Charles Brown, Jewel Fink, Greg Jennings, Sandra Jones and Patricia Smith.
During the Winter of 1993 "HEART" joined the Foster Care Resource Center in sponsoring an annual holiday food drive to provide holiday food baskets for families with children in need.
The services of "HEART" were extended to the City of Vallejo in 1994, and in 1995 an
additional office was opened there.
In 1995 "HEART" was honored to be one of twelve recipients of a grant awarded by the Solano County Arts Council to implement an Art Therapy Program. Two 8-week Art Therapy groups were offered in the Spring and Summer of 1996 in both Vacaville and Vallejo. These groups were facilitated by two professional artists and three clinical interns under Evelyn's supervision.
In 1998 the building which had been home to Vacaville office since it's inception was sold, and H.E.A.R.T. then consolidated, making Vallejo its priimary location. However, the City of Vacaville Department of Housing & Development opened the doors to the Trower Neighborhood Center, and families who were unable to travel to Vallejo continued to be seen there until 2000.
During the 1999-2000 School Year, a contractual agreement was entered with the Vallejo City Unified School District to administer the Student Assistance Program, a program funded through anti-drug grants for primary and secondary grade students throughout the school district.
The facilitation of Self Esteem and Anger Management groups for three different age groups was an exciting venture during the year 2000, because of the increased capacity of youth we were able to serve; and the observable impact made upon the youth, by self-report, caregiver report, and academic improvement.
Introduced to a broadcasting opportunity as a co-host by friend and colleague
Cheryl Mims, LCSW,
during the summer of 2004, Ms . Evelyn began a weekly radio program entitled
"Voices for A Child's HEART,"
on More Public Radio station Jazzbeat, in Oakland. CA. It was during this time that HEART
was introduced to motivational speaker and former foster child/adoptee, Les Brown and was privileged to have him as one of the guests interviewed regarding the adoption experience.
On the heels of this venture came also the opportunity of videotaping interviews with adult adoptees Regina Louise, and Montoya Graham, along with their adoptive parents, which were aired on OUR TV an Oakland (CA) cable station. These and additional interviews are now being prepared for cablecascast on Comcast's Valleo Community Access Television, Channel 29.
During the fall of 2004 one major goal of implementing a Tutoring Program was resumed, with the motivation and intent to support and enhance the academic achievement of children whose development and functioning have been negatively impacted by the emotional trauma of parental loss, attachment disorder, multiple home and school placements; as well as neurological and organic difficulties such as inuterine drug exposure and Attention Deficit Disorder (to name just a few). Academic competence and success is a critical component of a child's
self-confidence and self-esteem.
In 2005 HEART presented it's First Annual Foster Pride Celebration, honoring the outstanding accomplishments of foster youth, and adults who have truly taken their work with foster youth to heart. Valero Refinery donated the funding for our first scholarship and Mr. Les Brown
was our keynote speaker.
During 2006 and the years to come, we will continue to strive towards the goals of:
An effective and growing Mentoring Program;
Transportation Services to ensure consistent accessibility to and participation in activities and services which enhance successful and stable growth and development;
A School and Education Center;
Respite Care Services;
Recreation & Camp Program;
Comprehensive Medical and Mental Health services; and
other programs and services which develop in a continous response to the emerging and diverse needs presented to us by children and families.
Won't you assist and support us in reaching our goals?
If you are a supporter of "HEART," we thank you more than we can say. If you would like to become a supporter -- do something special for a child's heart -- tax-deductible donations may be sent to For A Child's H.E.A.R.T., Inc., 164 - Robles Drive #168, Vallejo, CA 94591. If you would like to volunteer your time and services, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org! We would love to speak with you about ways that you can help.