At the age of 14, I found myself completely on my own, in the foster care system.
The odds were more than stacked against me.
Survival, safety, and growth became my main priorities and occupied my dreams – at an age when most kids are worried about forgetting their geometry homework.
I believed that college was reserved for everyone besides foster kids, and had no idea that it was even an option for a kid like me.
The road was bumpy.
I learned on the go.
I let my curiosity lead me.
Eventually, I worked my way up the corporate ladder with passion, perseverance, hard work, and a little creativity.
And, from an early age, I promised myself that when I became truly successful, I would give back to organizations that supports foster youth, so that kids in the system wouldn’t have to go through what I did to be successful.
Imagine being 14, trying to figure life out on your own. This is, unfortunately, the reality for far too many kids in the foster care system.
Today, as the Director of Solutions and Professional Services at Toshiba, I have the unique platform to both share my story and shed light on the work of organizations like The Orangewood Foundation, who are 100% invested in changing the future for these kids.
As a sponsor to the Orangewood Foundation, I’ve been given the privilege to represent Toshiba while working to raise funds for the foundation and help mobilize volunteers – even in this new virtualized world.
Why Orangewood Foundation?
This foundation is near and dear to my heart, for obvious reasons!
Orangewood Foundation provides support to foster children in Orange County, CA in a truly holistic way. From education to life skill development, to housing, to health and wellness, Orangewood ensures that Foster Youth get their fair shot at life. With their own charter school, they provide their children with a high school education. They then help foster youth transition into adulthood, so they can stay off the streets when they age out of the system.
Far too many foster kids become statistics, and the Orangewood Foundation is committed to helping reverse that trend.
Creating Sustainable Change
As Toshiba’s ambassador to Orangewood, I have the opportunity to create various types of programs that will give these children the life skills and career coaching they need to survive and be truly successful in the world.
The goal is to help these beautiful souls, launch successfully into the real world, so they can live a sustainable, fulfilled life. Orangewood uses both a mentorship model and an educational model, in order to best serve their youth. and support programs.
I am so thankful to work for a company that takes its social responsibility seriously.
The truth of the matter is, far too many foster kids end up on the streets, Through the work of the Orangewood Foundation, foster kids’ lives are being radically transformed, because someone believed in them.
Not only are they allowing me to create programs in conjunction with the Orangewood Foundation, and serve as an ambassador on their behalf, they also employees volunteer.
This truly is the height of getting behind the cause, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. In 2020, there will be so much more to come, as we pour into these students and help them to thrive in life – in the areas that truly matter in the real world.
Never forgetting the journey that made me who I am today, I’m passionate about inspiring and encouraging people from all walks of life to feel comfortable in their own skin and pursue their passion. This is why I regularly dedicate my time and expertise, both on-stage and off, to assisting and speaking out for causes associated with foster care, domestic violence, and youth development.
The Orangewood Foundation is a unique opportunity to give back to those truly in need, while I am at a company that is 100% behind getting these students set up for massive success. I am excited for this partnership and looking forward to making a massive impact on the lives of these foster you.
If I leave one piece of advice, never forget the journey that made you who you are today and give back!
If you’d like to give to support Orangewood Foundation, you can do so through the below options:
- Educate yourself on Orangewood and how you can help here with their new video.
- Amazon wishlist
Orangewood Program staff have worked with their youth to identify top needs at this time, which include: Hygiene items such as shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrushes, dry shampoo, deodorant; men’s/women’s socks and jackets; easy to prep meals; ready to eat foods, and gas and grocery gift cards. They’ve created an Amazon wish list at http://a.co/cJ5An98 to make purchasing easier.
- Online Donations
A donation can be made online here:
- Kitchen still needs meals and food
Meals and food donations accepted 11-1 on FRIDAYS.
- Mail in some love
Please consider a monetary or a gift card donation (e.g.; grocery store, Target/Walmart, or a food delivery such as GrubHub or UberEats).
- Donations via drive thru If you are in the area, they are accepting donations (items from wishlist) via “drive-thru” at their office on Fridays from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM.