National Adoption Awareness Month!
November is the month during which Families and agencies nationwide finalize and/or celebrate the anniversary of their adoptions (or "gotcha" days); as well as inform the communities about the need for adoptive families for the many children/youth who are yet without permanent families.
H.E.A.R.T. is excited to be a part of the newly launched programmng of Vallejo's Public Access Channel "VCAT" (Vallejo Community Access Channel)Channel 27, to present adoption-related issues to our local community.
During the month of November we will be cablecasting four interviews held with adult adoptees, and their parents or siblings.
In these interviews the adoptees share the struggles and triumphs they experienced in growing up in the foster care system and adjusting to the permanency of adoption in their older years.
For more details, stay tuned.
If you would like to have these interviews viewed on Independent or Pubic
Access Stations in your communities please contact us!
What Do You Mean "It's Time for School?"
Believe it or not, summer is almost over already!
If we as adults can hardly believe it, imagine how the kids feel- -the majority of them anyway!
It seems like we were just able to breathe that sigh of relief that "our kids" were promoted to the next grade and others made it down the aisle and got that long-awaited diploma in their hands.
Where does the time go?! I never even got around to telling you about welcoming our own Kevin back from his spring semester Study Abroad in London; and our vidoetaped interview with him, entitled "Heart of Dreams & Tenacity", prior to his returning back to school at Clarke Atlanta University,in Atlanta, GA.
Now here we are having to brace and prepare ourselves and the kids for the adjustments to daily routines, backpacks, homework and teachers once again; and some for the new adventures of college.
In the next writing Ms. Evelyn will tell you more about the HEART Days of summer. In the meantime, be sure to check out articles by Carrie Craft on our Resources & Link Page, on preparing foster/adoptive children for school.
Annual Foster Pride Celebration & Awards Dinner Full of Surprises!
I just love surprises don’t you?! If so, you would’ve loved our 2006 Foster Pride Celebration/Awards Dinner held on Saturday, May 20th at the Jesse Bethel High School Student Union, in Vallejo, CA.
The evening was commenced as Mr. Van Waller of I Am Unlimited offered grace, and we dined elegantly from an abundant and exquisitely prepared buffet served by Mr. Charles Ambreau & the staff of Michael’s Southern Delights/Fabulous Catering.
As if having good food wasn’t enough, while dining we were graced by the delightful and soothing professional keyboards and vocals of my childhood sister/friend Ms. Janice Maxie-Reid, of Oakland, CA and the special SURPRISE appearance/accompaniment of my friend and brother, internationally renowned, multi-faceted guitarist, Mr. Lloyd Gregory!
Anyone who knows Ms. Evelyn knows that by now she was already in 7th heaven!! And we hadn’t even started to talk about her “babies” yet!
Following dinner, a phone interview was conducted with our 2005 Les Brown Heart of Dreams & Tenacity Award winner, Kevin Brown, who is currently participating in a Study Abroad Program in London, England (made possible, in part by Mr. Les Brown). During that conversation Kevin was surprised by the presence and greetings of members of his foster family. At the end of the phone conversation Kevin announced that he was pleased to pass on the torch of the Les Brown Heart of Dreams & Tenacity to our 2006 recipient, former foster child, Marcus “Amar Matani” Wilson.
Thinking that he was present only to sing and share his life story, Marcus was caught totally by surprise and the look on his face upon hearing his name was priceless!!
Hopefully, it was caught on camera and you’ll be able to see it on the Photos page of our website soon. To add to his surprise, he was congratulated via phone by Les Brown himself!
To the delight of those in attendance, Mr. Brown, in his usual enthusiastic manner shared words of congratulations and encouragement to all of our recipients, and offered each of our youth recipients a little “something-something”.
Well after that, it couldn’t get any better right? Wrong! Amar Matani adorned us with a song to which he wrote the music and vocals, prior to sharing the motivation for his dreams and tenacity, citing comparisons of the difficulties and destiny of his life to that of Joseph in the Bible. He then closed with another self-penned song to which Lloyd Gregory graciously agreed to accompany and delivered a solo performance. In the excitement of the calls, Ms. Evelyn forgot to call upon Van Waller who was on program to formally introduce Amar- -but he forgave her. (Thank you Van!)
Then, believe it or not there was still more! The following awards were presented:
Heart of Excellence Academic Award to Mister Devel, a 5th grader who’s been accepted into the GATE (Gifted & Talented Education Program); Heart Worker Award to Ms. Dess Benedetto, a dedicated volunteer/mentor from the Contra Costa County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) program; the Extended Family Heart Award to Ms. Kim “Auntie Kim” Jackson; and the Ms. Mamie Brown Heart of Endurance Award to Ms. Shay Shaw, an “under 30” caregiver of graduating twins and an infant.
The final highlight of the program was presentation of the Heart of Persistence in Academic Awardto the only one present of our five 2006 graduates,Mister Rayshawn Ward who was also the recipient of ourHeart of Determination/Improvement Award in 2005and who’d started the 2004 school year with a less than 2.0 GPA. Rayshawn is proudly graduating with a 3.7 GPA and is already enrolled to attend Los Medanos College! YOU GO RAY!!!
To add to both Ray AND Marcus’ surprise, Carla Juell from the Community Relations department of Valero Benicia Refinery represented the company in presenting a donation of $500.00 to our scholarship award, which was split between the two. The two were very gracious!
In the future we hope to do be able to more for our very deserving young people.
After all of these surprises we decided it was time to go home. There actually was one other special surprise, however, that being the presence of HEART’s former/originating Board member/chair Dr. R. Greg Jennings whom we miss with all our hearts! It was so good to see him.
Even after the celebration had ended, the surprises still aren’t over, as to Ms. Evelyn’s dismay, she realized that she’d forgotten to bring the lovely foldered certificates provided by the office of Senator Wesley Chesbrowhich were personally hand delivered by Ms. Belle Orpilla the day before. Therefore, recipients are still being surprised as these certificates are now being hand delivered by Ms. Evelyn.
We wish to thank all who were in attendance to witness this beautiful celebration of our youth and caregivers, and ask your continued support to keep the surprises and “doing something special for a child’s heart” never-ending!
HEART In London
After much anticipation, on Friday, April 7th our "HEART", Kevin Brown, departed from Clarke Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia, and on Saturday, April 8th arrived in London England where he will be attending American Intercontinental University for the Spring Semester.
After his first day there he wrote:
"EVERYTHING IS GREAT. The weather is like San Francisco, but not bad. Don't start school till Tuesday, but that is cool. The flight was cool and everyone seems to be nice. It’s cool out here-- makes me wish I went to school in a different country."
Since then he's been in touch via e-mail and phone and stated that instead of the 30-minute walk from an off-campus apartment, he "actually lucked up and managed to get in a dorm less than a five minute walk from campus; but I feel bad for the other students who actually have the 30 minute walk."
Regarding his classes:
"I have 4 classes and there are students here from everywhere South Africa, Sudan, Spain, Portugal etc. "Let's just say that I will have to stick to my own quote "FOCUS IS KEY." I have mostly been eating sandwiches. The time difference is nothing. I am already adjusted"
Kevin's Easter holiday was spent with classmates with whom he shared a good ol' American home cooked meal of lasagna...
We look forward to sharing more from Kevin in the next HEART Newsletter.
If you would like to send questions, words of encouragement, or financial support to Kevin, please contact us at HEART@forachildsheart.org or (707) 553-1971.
"Do Something Special for A Child's Heart!"
Foster Pride Celebration 2006
We are excitedly looking forward to our 2006 Foster Celebration/Awards Dinner in which we will recognize the accomplishments of several foster youth/alumni and adults who have been instrumental in assisting them.
The event will be held on
Saturday, May 20th
6:00 - 9PM
Jesse Bethel High School Student Union
1800 Ascot Parkway
Adults: $40.00 / $50.00 At The Door
Youth (18 and under): $20.00/ $25.00 At The Door
Special Guest Performer & Speakers:
Mr. Amar Matani
A former foster child, and up and coming vocalist and instrumentalist icon in the music entertainment industry.
Come and hear this young man's AWESOME musical style
and life story of growing up in the foster care system from 7 years of age into adulthood.
Ms. Kanya Coleman
The "Under 30” Founder/CEO of K-Platinum Group, Inc., who will share how a combination of positive thinking, positive choices, and faith has transformed her life from a childhood of adversity and instability to the successful management of four principle businesses producing over $15 million monthly in the first year"
The 2006 “Les Brown Heart of Dreams & Tenacity Award” Recipient
Tickets can be purchased in advance via Ticket Web:
164 Robles Way #168
Vallejo, CA 94591
Friends With HEART: In Harmony For The Children
A True Inspiration!!
If you missed this event I don't know what to tell you except "You should've been there!"
This is what some in attendance had to say:
"Oh my God! What an awesome time for an awesome purpose! Last night was just simply beautiful, ordained, full of HEART, and will be remembered forever. It was all for the children. I have a bigger view and heart for what you are doing and I have made a new commitment for this organization. Continue to "Be Blessed"
"Amar just sang with heart, okay?! And Tranishia, I will be sharing her gift with others . . . that version of the Lord's Prayer, I've never heard anything like it, others need to hear it! Shyla just shook the house, Van was excellent with his message, New Song was awesome, and Ms. Pat was simply divine! I loved the worship team from Vineyard and the song that they did. It was such a variety and diversity of the music and arts." (BG)
"I was really tired after spending four days at a conference but just the music alone brought me up and then listening to the testimonies was wonderful." (TW)
“Ms. E. you are the bomb! I mean for real! You have a real gift for bringing the gifts, talents and resources of others together in a powerful way that benefits those in our community that are really in need. You meet the real needs of real people. Keep up the good work. God Bless you and May He send us many more just like you!” (VW)
"I am truly blessed at that fact that I was even present at your benefit! Forget that I was there to share my gift, although I appreciate the invitation and blessing the Lord through it, I received so much more! It was absolutely beautiful." (SH)
"I was very much touched by the program you put on that evening and how you never strayed away from the truth of praising the Lord for
his majesty and glory in putting your program together." (MG)
It was especially heartwarming to hear the life experiences of Maria Luisa Jimenez, who spent much of her youth in foster care; and Rev. Weldon Rawlings, Sr., who joined us all the way from Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and shared his experience of being adopted at birth and forming relationships with his biological family as an adolescent.
Need I say more?! All that's left to say is "next time, be there!"
If you live in Vallejo, you will have the opportunity to view excerpts from the program on VCAT-Vallejo Community Access Television Channel 27. Stay tuned for details.
You will also be able to view an extensive interview with Weldon on an upcoming cablecast.
We'd like to extend a special thanks to Tommy Henderson, Maria Guevara, and Khalif Mohammed, volunteer staff from VCAT who videotaped the benefit in it’s entirety.
Proceeds from this event are being used to provide support for our 2005 Les Brown Award recipient, Kevin Brown who is now in London, England for a Spring Semester Study Abroad Program (See "HEART in London" Article) and to sponsor our Annual Foster Pride Celebration Awards/Scholarship Dinner. (See "Foster Pride Celebration" Article).
In addition to Ms. Evelyn's turning another year closer to the half a century mark, the month is bringing much of what HEART needs to "Spring Forward"
We are excited to welcome three new volunteers:
Mari Delos Reyes, Sherry Roces, and Dianne Sorrero.
These three young ladies are full of talent, creativity, and enthusiasm; and have taken on a great part in the preparation for our Annual Friends With HEART event scheduled forMarch 25th.
Also involved in bringing the event together are two of our longtime musical friends, Brenda Gittens and Patricia Wardley, who have recruited some of their fellow musicians to join us.
We hope that you will join us:
Saturday, March 25, 2006
6:00 - 9:00 P.M.
Friends With HEART: In Harmony For The Children
An Inspirational Musical/Benefit
North Bay Vineyard Church
1 Rancho Square
(At the corner of Sonoma Blvd. and Mini Drive)
Master/Mistress of Ceremonies:
Rev. Weldon Rawlings, Sr. of Pine Bluff, AR
Patricia Wardley, of Vallejo, CA
Vocalists, Instrumentalists, Dancers, Poets:
Tranishia Gholston, Brenda Gittens, Lloyd Gregory, Shyla Haynes, Amar Matani, New Song,
Vineyard Church Praise & Worship Team, Van Waller, Patricia Wardley
No Charge- - Offering and Donations Will Be Accepted
Proceeds will benefit Graduating Foster Youth during our May 20th Foster Pride Celebration (See below for further information).
Another exciting and proud occurance for us is news from our own 2005 Les Brown Heart of Determination and Perseverance Award Recipient, Kevin Brown. Kevin, a Jr. at Clarke Atlanta University, will be spending the Spring Semester at American Intercontinental University in London, England.
This trip is being made possible, in part, by the support of our own "Pride and Joy" Mr. Les Brown. Thank You Mr. Brown!!
We will also allocate a portion of the donations received on March 25th for Kevin, to be sure that he has everything he needs for this adventure. If you would like to contribute to Kevin's travel and educational expenses, please contact us via, mail or e-mail.
We're so proud of you Kevin, and have no doubt that is is just the first of your many travels and that the best is yet to come!
Foster Pride Celebration
We are looking forward to naming the 2006 recipient of the Les Brown Heart of Determination and Perseverance Award on"
Saturday, May 20th, 2006
6:00 - 9PM
Jesse Bethel High School Student Union
1800 Ascot Parkway
Several youth and adults will be recognized, and we are awaiting confirmation from our invited keynote guest speaker.
Please prepare to come out and support our young people, and stay tuned for more details.
HEART Academy (?)
Another part of the Vision of HEART is becoming manifest as the planning and development of a school program and curriculum has begun.
HEART is collaborating with Mr. Ben Marshall, Founder of Tell The Truth Ministries and "Seeds of Truth Academy", in laying the foundation for a private Christian school in which our youth can learn in a safe, non-traditional and inspiring school environment. We are so excited to see this vision coming into fruition. Anyone with experience in this area is welcomed to give us a call join us in doing something special for a child's heart, mind, soul, and spirit.
HAPPY "HEART" MONTH!!
If you know anything about Ms. Evelyn, HEART's Founder/Director, then you know that:
This is one of her favorite months - - when there are hearts everywhere!; and
Her favorite shopping days are the ones following Valentines Day when she can get hearts at half price or more discount, to last her the whole year through!!
As this is also BLACK HISTORY MONTH, we would like to acknowledge one of Ms. Evelyn's heroines, Ms. Marian Wright Edelman, Founder of the National Children's Defense Fund based in Washington DC. For More information regarding Ms. Edelman, please read the abridged biography at the end of this update, and visit www.
This is also the month when we usually have our "Friends With HEART" Dinner/Musical fundraiser. However, with the hectic schedules of our friends, and a short budget ,we've postponed this year's dinner.
Instead, we are planning a Gospel Musical to be held
Saturday, March 25th at 6:00PM at Vineyard Church in Vallejo.
Stay tuned for more details. If you are interested in participating in this event as a musician or vocalist please give us a call!
Then in May we will hold our FOSTER PRIDE CELEBRATION" Dinner in which we will acknowledge our 2006 graduates as well as the academic and other achievements of our younger youth. This celebration is
Saturday, May 20th at 6PM
location to be confirmed soon.
We have invited a very special guest join us for this event, from whom we're awaiting confirmation and we're sure you all will recognize!!!
So please check back with us to see who this special guest is!
Marian Wright Edelman
Marian Wright Edelman was born in Bennetsville, South Carolina on June 6, 1939. She was the youngest of five children. When Marian was little, many people thought that a black female couldn't become a lawyer. She graduated from Spelman College with her B.A.. A few years later she graduated from Yale Law School. Marian became the first African American woman admitted to the Mississippi bar.
From 1963 through 1968 she served as a legal defense attorney for the NAACP in Jackson, Mississippi. In 1968 Marian moved to Washington, D.C. to serve as counsel for the Poor People's Campaign. After that she founded the Washington Public Policy Resource Center which developed into the Children Defense Fund. Then she wrote ''Families In Peril,'' but her best success was ''A Letter to My Children and Yours.'' Hilary Clinton was also her personal associate. Marian also organized a national march on behalf of children called " The Stand for Children March."
Today she is 66 years old and is still helping the children.
Thank You Ms. Edelman for encouraging us to
"Stand For Children"
FOSTER PRIDE FRIDAYS
For the year 2006 we are excited to offer a new outreach: "Foster Pride Friday" - -a weekly teleconference call geared specifically to the support and motivation of youth and young adults, aged 16-22 years old, living in and transitioning out of the foster care system, and others not living with their biological parents.
The weekly calls will feature topic discussions suggested/requested by foster youth and facilitated by Founder/Director, Family & Child Counselor, Evelyn Polk along with foster alumnae and various guests with experience and expertise in the selected topics.
The goals of the teleconference calls are to establish a forum for open expression and influence positive thinking and choices for young people as they are submerged in the culture and stressors of their environments.
To participate, callers must contact us via e-mail or phone, no later than the Thursday prior to the
teleconference call. An access code and call-in number will be assigned.
The teleconferences will last for one hour each and the call-in number IS a LONG DISTANCE number.
Please pass this information on to young people whom you know can contribute and benefit; and thank you for supporting us in doing something special "for a child's heart".