This is what your impact looks like: The stories of Sam & Jennifer

Young person

Sam’s Story: a young person supported by CASA

At age 15, Sam was referred to CASA by the Juvenile Court in order to help their parents obtain supportive educational services. Sam, who is transgender, had been out of school nearly two years due to a combination of the pandemic and a history of bullying.These absences led the school to file a petition of truancy which initiated the Court’s involvement. 

Like many youth who have come to the attention of CASA over the past few years, Sam was significantly behind in grade level and was struggling to catch up and feel more positive about school. The family was also looking for an educational environment that would be safe and allow Sam to be who they are without fear of intimidation, ridicule and other forms of bullying. Before CASA was assigned, the parents felt overwhelmed by the educational process and ineffective in being able to advocate for their child.

Three years ago, CASA added the services of Alison Greene, a professional educational advocate, to provide volunteers specialized training and assistance around special education services and advocacy. Alison is available to consult to all CASAs, and as a CASA herself, is appointed to cases that require an additional level of expertise.

Working with Sam and their parents, Alison educated the family on the special education process, helped interpret various evaluations, obtained critical information from other professionals, and accompanied the family to all school meetings. Alison also communicated with Juvenile Court staff which helped shift the Court’s thinking from Sam being truant to being in need of more help from the local school system.

Within a few short months, Sam’s school system agreed to make a referral to a specialized and therapeutic school, where Sam could feel safe and receive the small group instruction needed to catch up and start to make educational progress. Sam is now making significant gains academically, is motivated to complete high school, and is thinking about future educational interests and opportunities. Their parents express greater confidence in asserting themselves with the school system to help ensure that their child continues to receive the necessary services and support they will need along the way.

Our partnership with you means:

  • Receiving intervention and support from an educational advocate.
  • Having a relationship with a CASA who is promoting a child’s best interests.
  • Thinking about the future with the support of their CASA.

Jennifer’s Story:  A FOCUS young adult

When Jennifer, 21, first came to FOCUS, she had just exited the state’s foster care system because she wanted, for the first time, to be in charge and responsible for the decisions impacting her life. In foster care, she never had that opportunity. Based on past experiences, Jennifer has a difficult time forming and maintaining healthy relationships with peers and adults.  Initially hesitant to be matched with a mentor, it took several months of Jennifer testing and building layers of trust that would eventually turn into a lifelong connection with her mentor.  It was a “rocky road” for Jennifer’s mentor who remained consistent, supportive, and non-judgmental throughout the relationship. 

Almost three years later, Jennifer maintains weekly contact with her mentor, often having multiple text exchanges, phone calls, and in-person meetings.  They both can look back and identify how difficult it was for Jennifer to trust her mentor, especially during a time she had not fully addressed or processed previous trauma.  Jennifer reports having strong control over her emotional regulation, which was a barrier for her in maintaining previous relationships.  Even after “blowing up” at her mentor and “ghosting her for weeks,” Jennifer attributes a majority of her success to the fact that her mentor has remained a consistent figure in her life, during the good and bad times. 

Jennifer struggled to maintain good academic standing in college her first year and was ready to drop out.  Four years later, she graduated with her Bachelors in Social Work, with her mentor in the crowd to cheer her accomplishment and to take her  to celebrate afterwards! Jennifer told us that she would not have graduated, and might not be here today, without FOCUS and the consistent support of her Mentor.  Jennifer was offered three different positions and is currently holding her first full-time salaried job with benefits. We are thrilled for her and will be her support as long as she needs her FOCUS community! 

Your investment in young adults like Jennifer helps Friends of Children create a reliable, responsive and real community for them and with them. They learn, build relationships, and take action in their own lives. They become empowered, and, in a sense, you are helping them invest in themselves!

Our partnership with you means they can:

  • Increase self-esteem and self-confidence with the support of a lifelong connection.
  • Increase financial stability allowing for healthy and successful outcomes for our young people.
  • Significantly decrease safety risks such as homelessness, substance abuse and/or untreated mental illness.

Thank You!