As in a tasty mix of talk

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Giving... A Look Behind the Packaging

I always think that, given a chance, I would step up and make a meaningful contribution to my community and the collective heart of the world. But, like packaged meat at the supermarket, some opportunities to contribute leave us disconnected from the life-and-death realities behind them.

Here’s a chance to look behind the packaging of Peace 4 Kids, a local community project devoted to helping foster children.

Foster and at-risk youth face challenges that defy imagination. But try for a second… Imagine switching homes, schools and caregivers, as often as three times a year or more. Imagine trying to cope with these challenges while living in one of the poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Under these circumstances, imagine how you would feel if you then lost a loved one to gun violence… or a relative to incarceration.

Nearly every foster child served by Peace 4 Kids has experienced these traumas or worse. But these children aren’t halfway around the world. They are right here in our own community.

Maybe you already know that our foster care system is brutally inadequate. But what you probably don’t know is that, meager as the system’s care may be, it unceremoniously stops the day these foster children turn 18. To say that foster youth are ill prepared for independent living is an understatement. Once they “emancipate,” their first stop outside foster care is often homelessness. Some of them, for example, find it cheaper and safer to spend their nights riding a bus than to pay for sub-standard housing, or worse, to take their chances on the streets.

That’s where Peace for Kids makes a difference. A private, non-profit organization, it helps foster children transition into society through training and support in all areas of their lives: physical and mental health; education; housing; legal needs; and of course, employment. While the organization serves foster children of all ages, it also provides critical, much-needed assistance to transitioning youth up to the age of 24.

And Peace 4 Kids deserves our help. Please visit this worthwhile organization’s website for a better view of its programs and the ways we can support them. You might want to mentor a foster child. Or maybe make a monetary contribution.

But I promise you, once you view the real needs of children at risk right here in our own back yard, you will better understand the impact of whatever you decide to contribute. You may also experience an unprecedented, heart-to-heart connection.


Blogger John said...

Thanks, Pat. This group does great work indeed. If some of your readers live in the San Fernando Valley, another outstanding organization that does the same kinds of things is Penny Lane.

9:43 AM

Blogger Laurie said...

Thank you so much for letting me know about this organization. John, thanks for the link to Penny Lane, too. I most certainly want to contribute.

9:51 AM

Blogger San Diego Farmgirl said...

Peace 4 Kids is a fantastic organization, I was very moved when Yak took me to a poetry reading by the group last year. Those were artsy kids, not street thugs. Yak is right, when they turn 18, they have no where to go. Many join the military, and that's no place for an artistic soul. Great post!

10:39 AM

Anonymous NikkiS said...

My friend works at the shelter in Indiana and her stories break my heart everyday...I don't know how she does it! I would probably have about a million kids living with heart just wouldn't be strong enough!!!! It is so important to help them transition...I mean if my mom would have just said goodbye 18????!!! Oh no! I don't know how I could have done it without some family back-up!!!! I love this idea...what a great organization!

9:34 PM


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