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Nonprofit helps foster kids with extracurricular, emergency expenses

(www.fosteradream.org)
July 13, 2012 7:54:49 PM PDT
ABC7 News is teaming up with Sleep Train to help raise awareness and support for foster children in the Bay Area. For every new "like" on the ABC7 News Facebook page, $1 will go to the Sleep Train Dream Campaign, which buys things like clothes and school supplies for foster children.

A group of teens at Foster A Dream in Martinez have been through tough times that no child should ever have to experience and all of them ended up in foster care. But the have hopes for a better future. The group focuses on foster youth 12-24 years old.

"Things that are probably going to spark that idea, 'I can do better, things could be better, life will be better,'" Foster A Dream Executive Director Kim Castaneda said.

Foster A Dream helps foster kids pay for extracurricular activities like proms, senior portraits and sudden emergency expenses.

One young man needed to make a deposit on his college dorm room, but the money from his student loan had not arrived yet.

"He called us and we sent him the money so he wouldn't lose his dorm," Castaneda said.

Only about half of foster children even graduate from high school and many don't have consistent adult support, so foster a dream tries to match them with trained mentors.

"Sometimes they just need to get certain situations and issues off their chest to someone who can listen, maybe give good advice," volunteer Cassandra Flagg said.

Foster A Dream also runs a two-week summer program called Get Set to help teenage foster kids prepare for adult life. The program is put on by two staff members and an army of volunteers. Teens work on resumes, practice for job interviews, visit different work places and learn about careers.

"They get interview outfits; we go shopping and they get clothes, brand new clothes for them to wear," Castaneda said.

There's also fun -- swimming, restaurants, even a trip to a zip line course. Through every activity the focus is on all the good these young people have to offer.

The Get Set program is paid for by John Muir Medical Center. Volunteers seem to benefit almost as much as the teens.

"I had a little questionnaire I did with them the other day and I couldn't even get through it because I stopped in the middle of it and said, 'You are my heroes, you people are my heroes, you have overcome things and have taught me so much about life,'" volunteer Teri Andreoli said.

Foster A Dream also distributes clothes and other donations all year long. And every December, they create a winter wonderland for foster children of all ages with activities and gifts to help every child feel special.

"When you find such a need, I just feel like it's a privilege to do it and it's I just think we all need to do whatever we can," volunteer Maureen Little said.

Written and produced by Jennifer Olney

Foster children rely on the kindness and generosity of strangers. Programs like Sleep Train's try to make it easier for those strangers to help.

Here's how you can help foster kids in the Bay Area achieve their dreams. ABC7 News and Sleep Train have teamed up for the Dream Campaign. All you need is your Facebook account! Just go to Facebook.com/abc7news and click on the Dream Campaign tab. For every new 'like' on our page this summer, $1 gets donated to Bay Area kids. Once you 'like' our page, or if you're already a fan, you can still spread the word to your friends. Just choose your favorite badge and share it on your wall.


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