The power of relationships and the inner strength of a child.
Two years ago, I was on our Selection Team observing kindergartners
at Alder Elementary School in order to select a new cohort of youth to
join our program. This is where I met Jacob*.
Jacob was only five years old and had been in and out of foster care
many times since birth. He had trouble connecting with adults and other
kids. Jacob was unable to focus on the classroom lessons and often
wandered around the playground by himself at recess. I spent six weeks
learning all I could about Jacob. I discovered that his short life was
already very difficult because of the extreme poverty he was not only
born into but the kind of poverty that is difficult for his family to
After Jacob was selected to be in our program, I became his Friend.
Over the last two years, I have watched his transformation and his
continued struggles. Jacob has been in two foster homes and two
elementary schools in just two years. That is a lot of instability for a
child trying to make friends or learning to read and write.
Fortunately, Jacob still has contact with his mother, who has been
challenged to maintain a stable home for Jacob and his younger sister.
Despite the social, emotional and sometimes physical challenges Jacob
faces on a daily basis, Friends of the Children has offered him a kind
of sanctuary where he can just be a kid. During our time together each
week, Jacob has a chance to explore his interests—like sports—practice
his reading, and talk with me about his heartbreak because he can’t be
with his mom and younger sister. Jacob can depend on me to be there for
him, no matter where he lives, no matter what school he attends and no
matter what is happening in his life. He has our unconditional
friendship for 12+ years.
We have mountains of data to prove the transformational power of
positive relationships. For a growing child who has experienced the
trauma of homelessness, hunger and family instability, I know I can
offer the consistency, support, validation and the friendship
necessary to begin building the life skills required to break the cycles
of generational poverty.
Jacob is like so many of my youth whose worlds are extremely
challenging. They yearn to connect with people who consistently show up
to be their champion, their support system, their friend. Friends of the
Children offers our highest-priority youth not only a path forward out
of poverty, but a personal guide who can provide the tools necessary to
blaze a new trail toward a future of their own making. We create space
for youth to be who they were meant to be: talented, funny,
compassionate, intelligent people with so much to offer the world.
Our Selection Teams are currently preparing to spend the next six
weeks in kindergarten classrooms to select a new cohort of fifty
children to join our program. You play a critical role in ensuring these
fifty children get the support they need to overcome significant
challenges and establish a foundation for lifelong success.
I hope you will continue to support youth like Jacob, who deserve the
opportunity to be a child, access their education, make friends, find
their spark and dream of a better future for themselves and their
families. Please consider making a gift to ensure our next class of
kindergarteners benefit from a mentor for the next 12+ years, no matter
P.S. Jacob recently discovered his love for baseball and has joined
his first Little League team. I am enjoying taking him to practice and
cheering him on at games. It's because of your support that I am able to
be a consistent person in Jacob's life and his biggest fan! Thank you
so much for making moments like these possible.
*Youth's name changed to protect their identity. Picture is not of the youth in the story.