A message from Olivia:
I would like to take a moment to celebrate the amazing event that CRILAY hosted last week! Nearly 30 youth and 40 adults came to the Paint, Sip ‘N’ Connect event, celebrating youth and adult connections. We all know the power of having a strong relationship with an adult that will guide and support a young person through the transition out of foster care into adulthood is important. This is invaluable to a youth’s success in life, and CRILAY did an amazing job of creating an event to strengthen these bonds.
There were so many heart-warming situations, and I wanted to share a few that were shared with me.
~A sibling group, who are placed separately, all came to see each other and was joined by their grandmother.
~A youth who keeps a worker at arm’s length had a surprising amount of fun and sent a heartfelt “I love you, thank you!” text to the worker at the end of the night.
~A youth who moved into a group home that day, got to get to know staff and peers in a fun easy going setting.
~A youth scheduled to move to a new foster home got to meet their new foster parents without the awkward “move in ritual.”
There were at least 20 more moments like this in the room that night.
The CRILAY planning committee consisted of Heather Akins, (CRILAY Co Chair), Robert Vermont (CRILAY Co Chair), Treonna Eubanks (CRILAY Secretary), Caroline Neal, Cleveland Taylor and myself. It is important to me to note these individuals did not get paid to create this event. In fact they hustled to get donations to cover the food, venue, painter, raffle prizes, etc. This team worked for 4 months on pulling this event together and were very happy to be rewarded by their hard work with heart-warming stories like those mentioned above.
If you’ve read this far, I might as well share a more personal note. I have been with Project LIFE since February and have been a part of numerous events. I have been operating on “If I build it, they will come” and I can now see that buy-in from the community and partnerships is far more powerful. I am eager to create more events such as these to reach more of the 2,000 youth who are over 14 in Virginia’s foster care system and the numerous youth under 23 years old that have left care already. I am hoping to hear from you about how we can fill the gaps, build bridges, and blaze new paths that will lead to youth becoming happy, healthy adults.
Looking forward to hearing from you!!