The Alameda County Aftercare Program is seeking families to open their homes to emancipated foster youth, ages 19-24, for the holidays, and hopefully continue to mentor them throughout the years(s).
The situations going on in the birth families of these youth which caused them to enter into the foster care system in the first place may not have disappeared just because they are now adults. As a result, many still need the support and guidance of stable, well-rounded, and funcional family in order to successfully transition into early adulthood.
If you, or someone you know, are willing to open your heart and home to these young adults for the holidays please contact Deanna Johnson-Beitia:
Tell her "HEART" sent you.
A Home For the Holidays
“A Home for the Holidays” TV Special Celebrates Joys of Adoption
There are currently half a million children in foster care in the United States; 119,000 of these children are available for adoption. Each year, this TV special seeks to raise national awareness and connect waiting children with potential adoptive families through an 800 number displayed during the program. The one-hour show features celebrity performances and stories from American families who share the joys of adoption. It airs on Wednesday, December 21, at 8:00 p.m. EST/PST on CBS; check local listings.
National Adoption Month
In 1976, the governor of Massachusetts, Michael Dukakis, announced an Adoption Week for his state. Later that same year President Gerald Ford proclaimed that Adoption Week would be celebrated nationally. As more and more states started to participate in Adoption Week it became clear that more time was needed for holding events and in 1990 National Adoption Week became National Adoption Month.
Today National Adoption Month is celebrated during the month of November. The celebration usually includes National Adoption Day with courthouses throughout the nation participating and hundreds of adoptions being finalized simultaneously.
National Adoption Month is a time to celebrate family and to bring about awareness that there are hundreds of thousands of children in foster homes awaiting adoption.
"Answering the Call: You don't have to be perfect to be a perfect parent" is this year's National Adoption Month theme as many organizations focus on the 118,000 children who are waiting in this nations foster care system for permanent homes.
President George W. Bush proclaimed November to be National Adoption Month, and within his proclamation stated:
"I call on all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities to honor adoptive families and to participate in efforts to find permanent homes for waiting children."
Not only is November National Adoption Month, but November 19, is National Adoption Day.
It is exciting to see that the "mainstream" has begun to pick up on the importance of acknowledging adoptive families, and the need for more, as while browsing through a Target Store I was pleasantly suprised to see Adoption Celebration items (ie., announcements, teddy bears, etc.)
Although HEART does not have an event scheduled to celebrate this year, If you are interested in supporting the continued vision of HEART by obtaining copies of our audiotaped/broadcast interview with Mr. Les Brown, an adult adoptee, and videotaped interview with Mr.'s Philmore and Montoya Graham, adoptive father and son on DVD, please e-mail us.
For information on what you can do to help the children who are waiting for a family contact your local county or private adoption agency.
Please check out our Links/Resources page to learn about different ways you and your communities can acknowledge and celebrate this special time.
Katrina/Rita Relief For A Child's HEART
After several contacts and weeks of waiting for "deployment" for the Hurricane Katrina & Rita Relief Efforts, I/we have still not received assignment for specific service.
However, below are excerpts from a letter with the most recent update from the Project Manager of the National Foster Parent Association.
H.E.A.R.T. has made the decision to forward the funds donated to us for our trip to the Gulf Coast to this organization to provide Christmas and further needs for the children. If you still wish make donations please mail them to the address at the end of the letter.
Let us continue to keep these children and families in our hearts and prayers.
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Karen Jorgenson, Executive Director of the National Foster Parent Association and I just returned from a fact-finding trip for NFPA and the Freddie Mac Foundation. We were accompanied by the Foundation COO, David Robinson, and the Senior Manager of Community Relations for the Foundation, Dean Klein. The foundation is providing funding for NFPA to provide some immediate assistance to foster children and families and to make longer term recommendations to address housing needs of foster/adoptive families displaced by the storms. NFPA has a network of organizations, but, quite frankly, the needs are so great that it is going to take more money and human resource support than anticipated.
Foster families are trying to keep the kids with them (foster, adoptive and birth), There will likely be more kids coming into the system from families over-stressed by the circumstances.
What we also saw were foster families joining together to help each other, setting up distribution centers for clothing and other items NFPA and others have sent, despite having no livable home themselves. We really want to move as quickly as we can to help these people repair the homes that are repairable and to locate new housing for those whose homes are not.
From this assessment it was apparent that needs fall into four general categories: 1) essentials of daily living, 2)housing, 3)mental health and 4)Christmas. We will be looking into counseling services in the near future.
Both Louisiana and Mississippi are very cash strapped, as you can imagine, so we are also trying to figure out how to provide Christmas for all of the children and youth in foster care in those two states. We will accept all offers of help with the logistics, procurement and shipping of “Christmas.”
The bottom line is that foster parents cannot provide homes for kids if they do not have one. Logically it makes sense to bring those homes back online as soon as possible to continue to meet the demand for homes. The Freddie Mac Foundation and Freddie Mac the corporation are doing a great deal to help the affected states, and the foundation has provided NFPA with some funding.
We will need to go beyond those funds to meet the needs and are seeking support from any and all quarters. There is an opportunity to apply for a Corporation for National and Community Service challenge grant for doing more of this type of work. We currently need to raise $600,000 additional matching funds to apply for a $500,000 grant.
Your assistance and ideas will be appreciated.
National Foster Parent Association
7512 Stanich Avenue, #6
Gig Harbor, WA 98335
(800) 557-5238 • Fax: (253) 853-4001
*** SEPTEMBER 2005***
Katrina Relief For A Child's HEART **
The vision of HEART is:
"that every child in out of home care experiences a sense of stability and acceptance in their communities".
By now you must know that there are MANY more children (and adults) who are now "out of home" in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina with very little if any, care and no communities.
It has been impressed upon the heart of our Executive Director, to carry the vision of HEART to the children in Louisiana to provide assistance for those who have been displaced from their hurricane stricken homes and families.
Her initial "plan" deferred, another door has been opened through which she will be able to travel to Louisiana as a delegate in collaboration with the "Healthy Communities" project of Oakland which will consist of medical and other professionals.
If you and/or someone you know would be interested in donating time, money and/or materials please have them to contact us.
A list of donation needs had been devised, however we now need to wait upon the directives of the team she will be traveling with and will inform those of you who express an interest as information is gathered.
It hasn't been determined as of yet if Red Cross will cover travel expenses.
You can make financial donations payable to: HEART,Inc. and mail to:
Katrina Relief For A Child's H.E.A.R.T.
164 Robles Drive #168
Vallejo, CA 94591
In addition, we need intercessors to keep us and the families in prayer.
There is something that can be done by any and everyone who reads this, and we are expecting and believing it to be so.
This would also be a very beneficial first hand volunteer experience and reality check for any older teens or "aging out" foster youth.
Please let us know what YOU are willing to do, then please pass the information on to someone else. These are OUR children.
In the words of Yolanda Adams, "if it weren't for those who loved us, where would we be today?"
Indian Summer Barbeque
Our Annual BBQ originally scheduled for July, had to be postponed. It has now been re-scheduled for Saturday, October 15th, 12-4PM.
Location To Be Announced.
Please call the office for information and contributions
California State Foster Parent Association 2005 Annual Conference
The CSFPA will hold it's Annual Conference Friday, October 21st through Sunday, October 23rd at the Marriott Hotel in Oakland, CA.
Our Founder/Executive Director, Ms. Evelyn will present a workshop on Saturday afternoon:
Enduring The Rollercoaster Ride of Caregiving When The "Fair" Ends.
"It's not fair! I don't want to stay here anymore!"
How many times have you heard that from the mouths of youth you care for and in your heart of hearts you want to stomp your feet and cry out the same thing yourself?
Do you feel like you can't handle much more of the ups and downs of it all and wonder if it's even worth it?
This workshop will address keys to achieving and maintaining tenacity and stability when the park you're thinking of is not the amusement park.
She should know-- she's taken the ride and is still riding!
For more information regarding the conference contact:
Anne Loyola, Program Director
Foster & Kinship Care Education
Las Positas College
3033 Collier Canyon Road
Livermore, CA 94551-7650
*** JUNE 2005 ***
Les Brown Fosters Pride & Laughter
In celebration of Foster Pride Month in May, For A Child’s H.E.A.R.T., Inc. welcomed former foster child/adoptee, internationally renowned author, entrepreneur, and motivational speaker, Les Brown.
Mr. Brown, well known for his signature sign-off “This is Les Brown, Mamie Brown’s baby boy” shared, with the full spectrum of emotional expression, his challenges and triumphs being raised with his twin brother, and 5 other children in the home of a single foster/adoptive parent in the impoverished neighborhoods of Florida.
He spoke to youth and caregivers regarding the importance and pay-offs of perseverance in overcoming life's circumstances in fulfilling the purpose and living the dreams of our lives.
The real highlights of the evening were the recognition of youth who've excelled academically during the past school year (Heart of Academic Excellence, and Heart of Persistence in Academic Improvement Awards)and the Les Brown Heart of Determination & Perserverance Award which went to Kevin Brown(no relation to Les Brown), a former foster youth currently in attendance at Clarke Atlanta University with a 3.7 GPA.
Kevin is a Junior with a double major in Fashion Design and Franchise Business Management, and has started his own clothing line: Kay-1 Apparel. With a donation from Valero Refinery we were able to award Kevin with a $300.00 scholarship, to which another $500.00 was added by guest, Mr. Les Brown.
Another scholarship of $200.00 (matched with $300.00 by Mr. Brown) went to Ms. Terri, a graduating senior who, behind in credits, attended three different schools (regular classes, continuation classes, and adult school) in order to graduate in time; and is registered to join Job Corps this summer.
Another highlight of the evening was the award of the "Ms. Mamie Brown Heart of Endurance Award" which was preceded by Mr. Brown's heartwarming surprise introduction to a namesake of his own mother, Ms. Mamie Brown.
This award was presented to Ms. Sheila Tatum, foster parent of three graduating seniors, one a teen parent and her baby. Ms. Tatum was presented with a gift certificate for an overnight stay at Bates Inn Bed & Breakfast in Oakland, CA, made possible through a donation by owner, Mr. Joe Ware.
Recognition was also given to social workers Catherine Fulcher of Growing Alternatives Family Finding Agency, and Carl Nishi of Contra Costa County Department of Social Services, in their absence. They were recipients of the "Heart Worker" Award for their dedicated work and collaoboration with HEART in providing outstanding services to and in behalf of children and families.
Needless to say this was an evening of pride and excitment for our youth and adults as well.
We wish to thank all who were in attendance, and those who supported us through your donations of time, services, and financial gifts.
A special "Thank You" to Mr. Van Waller of I Am Unlimited Photography in Benicia, CA for the photography which so beautifully captured the memories of this event.
*** MAY 2005 ***
A Message From Our Director
"Seasons: The Best Is Yet To Come”
As I put together the articles for this newsletter and update of our website, I recognized that there seems to be a common thread in most of the articles- - one of “loss” or as I’d prefer to view or reframe it as being “changes” or “transitions”.
I began to find myself feeling rather sad and discouraged about the “changes” taking place with HEART, and wondered what’s going to happen now, and why am I even bothering to write a newsletter when all of the news seems to be “bad” and everything seems to be fizzling away.
Then I remembered two songs by one of my favorite Gospel artists Donald Lawrence: “Seasons” and “The Best Is Yet To Come”; and recalled how the children and I had danced to the latter song as the opening of our “Adoption Awareness Month” Celebration in November; how Brenda Gittens sang the exact same song (having no idea of our November event) at our “Friends With HEART” benefit last month; and how Patricia Wardley, at the same event, sang George Benson's “Everything Must Change”.
With those reminders and tears in my eyes, I’m reflecting on how bare the trees looked only weeks ago, and how now with the onset of a new season the beauty of new things are coming into view.
It is with the vision of that view etched in my mind that I wipe my tears and believe God for the best that is yet to come!
Friends With H.E.A.R.T.: A Little Haven of Love
“I have to say I am impressed on how well you put on this event. The colors and hearts and the people you had there. . WOW!!! You created a little haven of love in that room.”
That’s how one attendee described the “Friends With H.E.A.R.T. Annual Dinner/Musical Benefit Dinner held on the evening of Saturday, March 5th. The room decorated in colors of purple and pink, along with great live music, friendly people and a great food buffet, was just that!
H.E.A.R.T. wishes to acknowledge and thank musical guests: Julie Brand and the All Stars (Shannon Lacey, Saul Parker, James Prothro, & Johnnie Ramos); Brenda Gittens; Chunky Harrigan & The Afro-Cuban Dancers; Linda Mims; Pat Wardley; and Xymphoni; as well as Janie Bess and Crystal Javier.
One of the highlights of the evening was the personal story of Crystal Javier’s experience as a child in the foster care system, followed by her uplifting delivery of the classic Bill Withers’ song “Lean on Me” which was spontaneously accompanied by the instrumentals of the All Stars and vocals of other program participants and attendees.
Another highlight of the program was the powerful ministry of song (“The Alabaster Box”) and prayer by Linda Mims of Ministry in Motion.
Other features of the program included Janie Bess’ reading of an excerpt from her newly published book “Visions:”; the acapella singing of Stevie Wonder’s version of “Happy Birthday” to Ms. Evelyn; and announcement of winners of our silent auction which comprised of items donated by:
Janie Bess, Writers Resource Center
Ashia Darby, Exotic Faces
Dominga deJesus, Body Rhythms
Monique Hunt, Tribal Wisdom
Patricia Meeks, Unforgettabe Custom Greeting Cards & Stationery
Debra Pooler, Dia Clothing.
Special thanks to Johnnie Burrell of JohnnieBurrell.Com/S.F. Cable 29’s “Enterviews” for videotaping the event; Elijah Mims (husband of Linda Mims) of Ministry In Motion for providing and engineering the sound system; Bettie Sewell of Ebonee Star Boutique; and to David and Janie Bess for being our sponsor for use of the Travis Air Force Base Conference Center.
And last but definitely not least, to HEART Board Members and “Friends” Tommie Brown, Greg Jennings, Maria Luisa Jimenez, Cheryl Mims, Valarie Russell Lois Thompson-Brown, for setting up, putting up, taking down, and carrying on throughout the evening. It could not have happened as it did without you. “That’s What Friends Are For”.
The Friends with Heart event broadcast was broadcast on Wednesday, 5/4/05 at 5:00PM on Enterviews, S.F. Cable Channel 29. Hope you or someone you know were able to catch/tape it.
(See “Heartfelt Appreciation” for a listing of those who made financial donations in support of the benefit.)
Mentoring & Tutoring Program
We are excited to report the successful impact of our tutoring program as the grades of several students have increased, d three have made honor roll during the most recent report card period!
Congratulations young people, we’re so proud of you! Now THAT’s what I’m talkin’ about!!!
In the same program component we’re both excited and sad to say goodbye to our Tutor/Intern Jennifer Quan, who will be graduating next month and will be moving to southern California to attend a 4-year university.
Congratulations Jennifer! And thank you so much for your dedication and commitment to HEART. We wish you the best and really are going to miss you.
We are seeking volunteer mentors and tutors to begin during the fall semester. Please contact us via e-mail (HEART@forachildsheart.org) if you’re interested. (See Volunteer & Internship Descriptions Below)
Yet Another Heartfelt Goodbye
Yet another heartfelt goodbye goes to Board Member, Dr. R. Greg Jennings. Anyone who has supported HEART during any event over the past decade is sure to recognize the youthful, professional and warm presence of Dr. Jennings, a member of the originating board when HEART first incorporated in 1994.
Dr. Jennings has competently balanced his commitments to family, education, career, and community with poise and dignity.
The same characteristics, of integrity and ability to communicate clear limits, which have contributed to Dr. Jennings’ long-standing commitment to HEART, are the same characteristics with which he has gracefully submitted his resignation from the board.
As a full-tenured professor at Calif. State University at Hayward, Edcuational Psychologist with the Vallejo Unified School District, Husband to Patricia Jennings, and Father to Evan and Sara Jennings, Dr. Jennigns has recognized the need to make necessary adjustments to balance his current commitments and responsibilities.
HEART extends it’s most heartfelt appreciation to Dr. Jennings and his wife for dedicated service and unending support; and wish them the greatest of God’s blessings. We’re going to miss you!
Visions For A Child's Heart
Taped interviews with former foster and adoptive youth and their caregivers have been aired over the past several months as “Visions For A Child’s Heart” on OUR-TV These broadcasts are now discontinuing, with a major factor being the broadast air time more than doubling in cost.
We are eagerly awaiting the launching of Comcast’s public Access Station in the city of Vallejo so that we may be able to resume broadcasting.
If you have been able to view these broadcasts, have enjoyed them and would like to see them continue, please call or write and let us know. We need your support and donations to be able to continue the “Vision”.
Envision Even More..."Enterviews"
Beginning January 5th, Executive Director, Evelyn Polk joined Johnnie Burrell, Founder/Executive Director of Johnnie Burrell.com as co-host of a television show called "Enterviews".
It’s been a lot of fun, however beginning in May “Enterviews” will be taking a different direction without Ms. Evelyn as co-host. We’re sure you will still be delightfully entertained though as you watch and “listen” to where Johnnie and “Enterviews” will take you next.
For more information go to www.JohnnieBurrell.com or e-mail: email@example.com
*** VOLUNTEER & INTERNSHIP POSITIONS ***
Mentor/Tutor (2-6 hours/week):
Meet weekly with (a) 9-14 year old foster child(ren), providing academic tutoring and/or recreational and extra-curricular activities to enhance school performance and social functioning. Fingerprint clearance required.
Office/Clerical (8+ hours/week):
Perform basic clerical duties essential to organization and maintenance of office reception and record-keeping, ie., greeting clients, confirming appointments, filing, phones, typing, correspondence, etc.
Technical Support (4+ hours/week):
Upgrade and set up computer equipment and program software/databases for record-keeping needs (ie., accounting, scheduling, etc.) and tutoring needs. Transfer of data from older hard drive to current.
Grant Coordinator (4-8 hours/week):
Research and identify potential grantors, compile program data for use in grant proposals, and write grant proposals.
Community networking. Solicit volunteers and donations (financial and in-kind) from business and community resources; coordinate and implement fundraiser events/activities; formulate and maintain donor mailing list/newsletter.
*** DESIRES OF (THE) H.E.A.R.T.***
Your donations are greatly needed, appreciated and accepted year-round
In addition to monetary contributions, we are also in need of the following supplies/equipment:
• New computer, monitor, printer, and scanner for office use
• Full-time Secretary/Receptionist/Bookkeeper
• Computers for tutoring center (5)
• Laptop Computer
• Sofa and matching chair (pastel color scheme)
• 2 Vehicles/Drivers to transport children/families
• Children's furniture
• Hand and Finger Puppets
Remember your donations are tax-deductible, and your assistance is greatly needed/appreciated.
We wish to acknowledge and express our heartfelt appreciation to:All those who pray for our continued maintenance and progress towards the vision of H.E.A.R.T.
*** BOARD OF DIRECTORS OPENINGS ***
We continue to have multiple openings for membership on our Board of Directors.
The Board meets on the 2nd Thursday of each month, 6:15-8:15PM at our office in Vallejo, CA.
We are particularly interested in retirees and persons with experience in adoptive, foster, or relative care, fundraising, accounting, and the legal field. Whatever your experience, if you have an interest and TIME , please email us!
** VOLUNTEERS & INTERNSHIPS **
We are excited to have Jennifer Quan, a Senior from New Technology High School located in Napa (www.newtechhigh.org).
Jennifer joined us in November as a Mentor/Tutor Intern. She is a fresh and welcomed addition to our program; and we're looking forward to great academic achievements of our youth during this school year!
Thank you Jennifer and Heidi Kobylka, Intern Coordinator at New Tech.
We also wish to thank Arthelle Porter-Davis, and Dante De La Cerna with the Solano Mentor Collaborative for screening and implementation of the Peer Tutor Program.
**HEARTFELT APPRECIATION **
We wish to acknowledge and express our heartfelt appreciation to:
Rolanda Booker aka "Aunti Troi" for her pledge to become a monthly sponsor of H.E.A.R.T. "Thank You Auntie Troi!"
Lighthouse Covenant Fellowship Church of Benicia, for their monthly support of $50.00.
Valarie Russell and Board Members, Tommie Brown & Annie Turner, for multiple financial donations to keep H.E.A.R.T out of the red.
All who pray for the stability and continued progress towards the vision of H.E.A.R.T.
For A Child's H.E.A.R.T., Inc.
164 - Robles Drive #168
Vallejo, California 94591
Tel: (707) 553-1971
Fax: (707) 553-1969