“It Takes A Village”
If you’ve followed any of our newsletters then you’ve probably heard a lot about Kevin, 2005 recipient of our Les Brown Heart of Dreams & Tenacity Award. Well, guess what--he’s baaaaack! and this time he’s loaded- -with degrees and honors!!!
I, Ms. Evelyn, had the awesome privilege of attending Kevin’s graduation ceremony at Clark-Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia on Monday, May 21st, and it was one of the most proud moments of my life. First of all I was just glad to get there after a series of mishaps and finally getting checked into my hotel room at 3:30AM on Sunday.
I had been told that there would be a Baccalaureate service held at 9:00 Sunday morning, and that in the afternoon I was to attend a luncheon. Being that I’d only been served mini pretzels during the whole travel time of two flights on the way there I was more than happy to sit down to a meal. However, what I didn’t know was that the luncheon was being held following a ceremony in which Kevin, along with the other top 10% of his class, was inducted into the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society. By the time we reached the luncheon, I was already full- -emotionally.
In sitting around the table with Kevin’s foster mom, Ms. Mary, her daughter “Auntie Kim”, Kevin’s former teacher and now vice principal of Jesse Bethel High School, Mrs. Carrie Wilson and her family, it hit me- -“We are the village” that’s raised a child. The tears began to well up in my eyes. They didn’t last long though because Kevin was in rare form- - animated and keeping us all laughing. Besides, the air condition was so cold my tears may have become tearcicles. (:
Before being taken back to my hotel we got to see and hang out at the house which Kevin has called home for the past 4 years, and meet a couple of his roommates. That was fun!
The next challenge was getting to Panther Stadium where the graduation ceremony was to be held at 8:00AM on Monday morning. As they say about good movies, I laughed, I cried (and I almost burned up in that Georgia Sun). By this time another important member of “the village” had arrived in the person of Mr. Philmore Graham, Founder of Vallejo’s Continentals of Omega Boys & Girls Club, who has mentored Kevin since he was 7 years old.
Kevin didn’t just walk across the stage and receive a degree, but he walked across the stage TWICE as he received first, his Bachelors of Arts degree in Fashion Design/Merchandising from the School of Arts & Sciences, then second, his Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration/Supply Chain Management from the School of Business. (It almost takes a college degree just to remember the names of the degrees).
Following the ceremony I finally met the person who gifted us with us this beautiful child we all got to raise, Kevin’s biological mom, Raven, her three other children and a great aunt.
As we all took pictures, I saw the love and pride on Mr. Graham’s face as he embraced “our son”. We tried to pretend we didn’t see the tears on each other’s faces but as we rode in the car to the restaurant to celebrate there was no denying it- -we shared the well of emotions of being proud village parents.
As if that isn’t all enough, we’re already looking forward to doing it again within the next two years- - that time abroad, as Kevin has been accepted and will be attending graduate school in London!!! What can I say?!
There are so many more “Kevins” to be celebrated. Please support us in being a village as we continue to do something special “for a child’s heart”!
2007 Foster Pride Celebration
On Saturday, June 9th at 2PM HEART will host a luncheon to acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishments of the youth and 2007 graduates of HEART. It is scheduled to be held at Valero East, 610 Industrial Way, Benicia, CA Six graduates (5 high school and one college)will be honored with scholarships made possible through the generous donation of the Benicia Valero Refinery.
We will also get an update on past years’ graduates and recipients of the Les Brown Heart of Dreams & Tenacity Award, as well as experience the musical gifts & talents of one or more of our “hearts”.
If you are interested in attending and/or making a contribution to the event please e-mail us at HEART@forachildsheart.org.
We look forward to seeing you there!
Public Access Television Appearances
Ms. Evelyn was honored to be an invited guest for the taping of “Our Town – Fostering Vallejo's Children” in recognition of Foster Pride Month hosted by Maria Guevara. The interview will be aired on Vallejo Community Access Television (VCAT) Channel 27.
VCAT has also continued to air segments of “Visions For A Child’s Heart" our videotaped interviews with adult adoptees and former foster youth. Ironically an interview with Kevin taped last summer just aired for the first time this month. Additional interviews are being edited and scheduled for upcoming airings.
For scheduled airings please visit http://www.vcat.tv/Now_Playing.htm We’re still working out kinks in the visuals, but please send us your feedback and let us know what you think of the content and any recommendations you may have for guests. We will soon have a page on our website listing past and current interviews.
Featuring Regina Louise
Somebody’s Someone is a one-woman play by Regina Louise, which premiered Wednesday May 2nd and will run through Sunday, May 27th at the Sacramento Theatre Company.
This is a dynamic young lady with an awesome testimony and gift of expression, who was featured in one of our "Visions For A Child's Heart" interviews.
Accompanied by original music, this moving chronicle of her life in the foster care system and her successful emergence into adulthood is a gripping tale of optimism and perseverance. Her message will linger in your heart, long after her performance is over. Go to listen to her story and honor the challenges, spirit and triumphs of our foster youth; and tell her “HEART” sent you. (:
Call 916.443.6722 or 888.4.STC.TIX or visit www.sactheatre.org to purchase your tickets.
“I Love Being An Auntie”
These are words which were regularly spoken from the mouth of Ms. Valarie Russell, a single adoptive parent of two, teacher of many in the Vallejo Unified School District, and “Auntie” to even more.
Having been the greatest supporter and “Friend of HEART” “Val’s love for and commitment to children was her life. If you’ve ever attended any HEART event over the past 10 years, you were either greeted at the entrance by her enthusiastic smile, saw her walking around with head high putting
last minute touches on things, or in her absence during the last year, saw the products of her students’ hands in the heart drawings lining the stage and walls.
Although she boasted “I’m from L.A.!” in her tough proclamation, she was a “softie” when it came to children and families (and anyone in whom a need was identified and/or expressed) A non-conformist problem-solver, quick-witted and humorous, Val was a free spirit who’s presence was heartfelt unless you “crossed” her determination to do what she felt was necessary to make a difference in the life of a child.
“Auntie Val” regularly supported youth of HEART who transitioned out of the foster care system, whether away at college, participating in a study abroad program, getting a drivers license, attending community college, and/or moving into their first apartment. Delivering bags of groceries and other essentials following a shopping trip at Costco was commonplace.
We’re going to miss her so much! However, to continue Auntie Val’s legacy, HEART is establishing an “Auntie Val Transitional Living” fund to assist young adults in settling into the community and pursuing their educational and/or career interests/choices.
If you wish to become an ”Auntie” to one of our transitioning foster youth, or make a financial contribution please contact us and/or send your donation to For A Child’s H.E.A.R.T., Inc.
164 Robles Way #168, Vallejo, CA 94591.
A memorial service will be held for "Auntie Val" at 4PM on Saturday, March 17th at Northbay Vineyard Church, located at the corner of Sonoma Blvd. and Mini Drive (the old Safeway inside the shopping center)in the city of Vallejo.
She didn't want a funeral, but she loved to celebrate; so we're going to celebrate her life and love!
Happy New Year!!
As we embark upon a new year, we are also approaching 15 years since HEART's inception. It's hard to believe that much time has passed already!
We've nurtured many hearts through the joys and the pains, have sadly said goodbye to some, and have watched many transition into adulthood.
2006 was a year of greatest challenge, and services were at the end of the year; yet the HEART is still beating and it is expected that 2007 is going to present a major shift in the focus and direction in fulfillment of the vision of HEART.
Stay tuned and please consider how you might volunteer to support us through Board membership; Fundraising, Event Planning and Production. We look forward to hearing from you.
Heartfelt appreciation to Mr. Wil Cason from Positive Steps Consulting for selecting HEART as one of the sponsored charitable organizations for the 24 Hour Motivation event on New Years Day!
If you are visiting our site as a result of that magnificent event, thank you for considering HEART as a recipient of your generous donations and support.
Visions For A Child's Heart
We'd like to thank Vallejo Community Access Television (VCAT) for running our videotaped interviews over the past couple of months since Adoption Awareness Month in November. They aired a lot longer than expected, and generated positive response from the community.
We have two interviews still in editing and are looking forward to presenting those in the very near future.