Tag: foster care system

Davion Only’s Quest for a Family Finally Ends When Connie Bell Going, His Case Worker, Adopts Him

In October of 2013, 16-year-old Davion Only stood in front of a church in St. Petersburg, Florida with one request— for someone to adopt him.

“My name is Davion and I’ve been in foster care since I was born. I know God hasn’t given up on me. So I’m not giving up either.”

His request to find a family was picked up by a local news station and more than 10,000 people from around the country responded.  Unfortunately, after a brief stint at a home in Ohio with a potential adopter, he went back to Florida and was placed in four different homes over the next year.

(Image Credit: Instagram)

But that all changed last July when he called a woman he’d known since he was seven— his case worker, Connie Bell Going.

According to Yahoo! Parenting, Only would ask Going every year to adopt him, but she always believed there was a better family out there for him.

Something in her heart changed, though, when he made the request again last summer. She explained:

“In adoption there is a ‘claiming moment,’ when you know [someone is] your child. When he called me to ask, in that moment, I just knew.”

So after a successful test run with her family — she has two daughters and a son whom she adopted out of foster care — Going started the adoption proceedings for Only.

(Image Credit: Twitter)

On April 22, 2015, the adoption proceedings will be finalized and Only will officially have a forever family.

“Today, I am feeling blessed and honored by being chosen to be the parent to all my children,” she said. “I work every day on being the best parent I can to them, to be patient and creative so that I can meet all their needs.”

Only is over the moon about his new family, and always believed Going to be his mom. He told her:

“I guess I always thought of you as my mom. Only now I get to call you that for real, right?”

(Image Credit: Twitter)

And Going feels exactly the same way.

“When he asked me, my heart felt this ache and I just knew he was my son,” she said. 

After years of moving from place to place — never having anything to call his own — Only is finally home.

article by Amanda Ghessie via ijrreview.com

Liz Ferro’s “Girls With Sole” Non-Profit Helps Young Women Overcome Life’s Challenges Through Fitness

TODAY

Six days a week, Liz Ferro packs up her car and drives throughout Cleveland to teach young women yoga, swimming and other fitness-based activities. But it isn’t all about breaking a sweat.  “It washes away all the cobwebs,” Ferro told TODAY. “Not just out of my brain, but off my heart.”

After using fitness to recover from her own difficult childhood, Ferro now runs Girls With Sole, a non-profit organization committed to helping young women learn to overcome life’s challenges through exercise. “It’s so much easier for them to feel down on themselves,” she told TODAY.

TODAYFerro hits the road throughout the week to work out with pre-teen and teenage girls in schools, juvenile detention centers, social services and other organizations throughout the Cleveland area. “My car looks like a sporting goods store exploded in it,” she said. “It’s almost like Meals on Wheels, but we’re fitness and wellness on wheels.”

Girls With Sole, which she founded in 2009, is largely inspired by Ferro’s own past. She lived in four different foster homes as a child. By the time she was adopted, she had been sexually abused and experienced other traumas while bouncing from home to home.

“Sports and fitness was the thing that made me find the empowerment to be able to handle it and resilience to move on and keep moving forward,” she explained. “Even in the darkest times, it literally saved my life.”

Ferro is now turning to the next generation of young women to show them how to use healthy coping mechanisms, including running, swimming, biking and yoga, in the face of hard situations, whatever they may be.

“School has stressed me out so much, and I could always look forward to Wednesdays, when I would see Liz and I would see her smile and her energy,” eighth-grader Gina said. “People feed off that.”

When Girls With Sole participant Jada finished her first 5K, it meant more than crossing a finish line.  “It makes me feel like I can achieve something in my life,” she said. “Coming here brings the happiness out of me instead of sadness.”

Click here to see video of this story.

article by Amy Eley via www.today.com

How Bronx Teen, Tyree Grant, Went From Foster Care To Full College Scholarship

Tyree Grant

Stories about children shuffling through the foster care system don’t always end with a fairytale adoption — but Tyree Grant’s did.  The 18-year-old high school senior was only six when he was forced to leave his mother and siblings. Grant spent the next two years moving from one family to the next, before being adopted by his parents Walter and Theresa Grant.

“I moved back and forth to homes, it was difficult. I fought, I screamed, I yelled, I cried — it hurt,” Tyree said. “No kid wants to be put through that situation.”

But the Grant family was a perfect fit. Tyree’s proud parents told NBC Today they knew immediately when they saw his picture that he was their son. And the feeling was mutual — by the time his parents asked if he wanted to be a part of the family, Tyree said he felt that he already was.

“I felt wanted, I felt accepted. There’s no better feeling than that.”

The Grio reports that Grant will graduate this year from the Bronx School of Law and Finance with an A average. The smart young man attributes his success to his family for their unwavering love and support and for helping him focus his time and energy on what matters most.  “Just knowing that school is priority number one, I was able to move through all the distractions and still come out on top.”

Grant will attend Dickinson College next fall on a full ride scholarship — thanks to help he received from The Posse Foundation, a program devoted to developing college access and leadership growth for urban youth.

It’s no surprise that he is there planning to pursue law and policy with a minor in philosophy, considering his high school internships at law firms and participation with the World Changers Church New York.

Grant’s inspiring journey is a testament to the power of love, determination and faith — all things that the bold young man embodies.  To see video of this story, click here.

article by Jessica Dickerson via huffingtonpost.com

Festus Ohan, 22, Overcomes Troubled Teen Foster Care Years to Finish College and Earn Acceptance to 7 Top Medical Schools

festusohanHe led a tough life. The odds were stacked against him and, at one time, it did seem that he wouldn’t be able to make it through high school. He, and almost everyone around him, just couldn’t imagine seeing him succeed.

But that is exactly what Festus Ohan, 22, did: he succeeded.  Festus spent his teen years in foster care. He remembers the day his father left him.

“I went to bed in tears, crying, praying, [and] asking God ‘Why did this happen to me?’” Festus says. Over the years, he was passed on from one family to another, so many of them in fact, that even he isn’t sure about the exact number – seven or eight is his best estimate.

All he knows is that the time he spent in the foster care system “was the worst time” in his life. It didn’t help with his education either.

“Early on in high school, I got in trouble for fighting a lot,” Festus says, “and I was in a pre-expulsion contract.”

His ultimate dream was to become a doctor. But the life he was living almost made it impossible for him to keep that dream alive.

Those that were actually supposed to encourage him were the ones that were discouraging him. “Constantly hearing my foster parents throw statistics at me, about there’s only a 1 percent chance that a foster kid will even graduate college, let alone attend professional school, kind of impacted me in a way,” Festus says.

That’s all changed now. Festus is about to graduate from University of California, Riverside with a degree in neuroscience. He’s so good at his studies that, so far, he has been accepted to 7 medical schools all over the country: Northwestern University, Columbia University, Cornell University, University of California, San Francisco, University of Houston, University of California, Los Angeles, and University of Southern California.

But Festus has made up his mind; he’s headed to UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine where he has been offered a fellowship that covers all expenses.

“I actually start Aug. 4, so I’ll have like a 6-week break,” Festus says, “but I’m excited for the next step in my journey.”

article by Liku Zelleke via themedicalblog.net

California Restaurant Chain Tender Greens Exposes At-Risk Foster Youth to Culinary Skills

Erik Oberholtzer, CEO and co-founder of California restaurant chain Tender Greens, had been trying for years to figure out how to help young people. Last year, Oberholtzer’s company started a charitable program dubbed the “Sustainable Life Project.” The three-month program targets young people ages 18 to 24 who are transitioning out of foster care, who may be at-risk of becoming homeless or ending up in prison, reports CNN.

The Sustainable Life Project partners with local organizations to recruit young adults transitioning out of the foster care system to participate in a 12-week culinary arts and agriculture internship program. Youth transitioning out of foster care face unique challenges that make them especially vulnerable. Distrust, abuse, neglect and general lack of access to resources and guidance often make navigating adulthood difficult, according to the Tender Greens website. Without primary needs like housing, vocational training and legal support, these youth frequently don’t have the luxury of dreaming beyond finding a home and employment.

The young people visit artisan food makers, urban farmers and food-processing facilities to learn about the sources of their food. They get culinary arts training from restaurant chefs, and they receive a paid internship inside one of the company’s 12 restaurants. The restaurant chain then conducts interviews and takes up to eight students every three months.

Some 15 youths have graduated from the Sustainable Life Project since it started, and 10 who have landed restaurant jobs, CNN reports. Tender Greens pays students an hourly wage for their internship and covers transportation costs for farm visits. Oberholtzer started the program at a time when many CEOs were focused on surviving the recession. But Tender Greens was in the midst of a rapid expansion. The company grew from $7.3 million and 115 employees in 2009 to $28 million in revenues and 450 employees in 2013.

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