Giving Foster Children a Bed to Call Their Own

For The Seventh Generation has provided over 100 beds and cribs to foster families in need

Sleeping SilviaVinas

When people are expecting a child through pregnancy, the key word is, “expecting.” Even people who are surprised by a pregnancy have nine months to get the necessities together: diapers, clothing, and a crib for the baby to sleep in.

Foster children, on the other hand, are frequently unexpected: family members get a call at midnight telling them that a young relative needs a home right now.

At the same time, Michigan’s foster care system requires foster parents to provide the basics, and provide them soon – frequently within days – but the system doesn’t provide the funds to make the larger purchases possible.

 

Which brings us to For The Seventh Generation’s bed program for foster children.  Since January of 2014, the generous support of our funders has allowed us to provide 122 twin beds, 33 cribs, 33 bunk beds, and 4 full beds for foster families in need.

Sometimes, these beds and cribs made it possible for siblings to stay together. Others, a new bed or crib was the difference between a child living with family members or with complete strangers while in foster care. And in other cases, we helped make it possible for children in foster care to go back home to their parents.

After all, foster children are dealing with enough already. They deserve a bed of their own. They also deserve to stay with their siblings, and whenever possible to stay with relatives or family friends who already know them.

Most of all, when their parents – or new, adoptive parents are ready – to take them home, “our” children in foster care shouldn’t have to wait until there’s enough money to buy a bed for them to sleep in.

With all of this in mind, we’d like to thank the funders who have helped “our” foster children sleep snug in their own beds night after night:

These funders purchased beds and cribs for our foster children. Meanwhile, Gardner White and Hayneedle provided significant discounts so our bed program budget went further. And volunteers from Morse Moving (along with many other, individual volunteers) have provided the “muscle” we needed to get these beds delivered.

For The Seventh Generation has provided almost two hundred beds in just under two years, but the need is still great.

Virtually every day and night, foster parents – and people who never expected to be foster parents – are being contacted by foster care workers asking if they can take in a child.

And virtually every week, we get a request for a bed or a crib so a foster child can have a home.

Volunteers Cullen Christopher Dana Realms Ena Ausbrooks help get new beds to foster children, October 2015

Volunteers Cullen Christopher Dana Realms Ena Ausbrooks help get new beds to foster children, October 2015

We’ll continue looking for grants to fund this program – in the meantime, though, please make a gift of $50, $100, $150 or more to help us purchase beds and other emergency items for Detroit-area foster children. Your support will make a huge difference in the life of a child!

Thanks to you, we served 500 metro Detroit-are foster children, teens, and families in 2013!

Friends,

When Kelly Ramsey and I proposed For The Seventh Generation to the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association Foundation in 2005, we dreamed big dreams for this organization.

For The Seventh Generation Executive Director Lorraine Weber

For The Seventh Generation Executive Director Lorraine Weber

In 2013, those dreams started coming true in a big way:

Thanks to you, over 500 metro Detroit-area foster children, foster families, and teens aging out of the foster care system received life-changing goods and services last year!

Here are some details:

  • Seventy-seven foster children, teens, and families picked up essential items like clothing and furniture at our Help Closet.
  • Seventy-five youngsters picked out presents, had presents picked out for them, and enjoyed snacks, games and holiday-themed festivities at our 2013 Holiday Bazaar.
  • With the help of the Rotary Clubs of Detroit and Grosse Point, 150 children and teens in foster care received brand new winter coats through Operation Warm.
  • More than fifty foster children who are permanent wards of the court received preliminary orthodontic care at the University of Detroit Mercy’s School of Dentistry.
  • Four children were served by the Play It Forward music program, which is funded to provide instruments and lessons to a total of twelve foster youth.
  • The remainder of the foster children, teens, and families received a range of items and services including orthodontic care, Prom dresses and related services, and home-improvement services like roof repairs.

What made all of this possible? You did – by donating goods, donating your time and services, contributing financially, or even by “just” spreading the word on Facebook to let your friends know about the needs of our area’s foster children.

There are too many of you to thank in a short blog post, but we do want to single out Charity Motors, The Park West Foundation, and GEM Asset Management for being very generous and ongoing sponsors of our yearly In Seventh Heaven event.

We also want to thank Metro Detroit Etsy, AMP FM Radio 98.7, and our local and national Ronald McDonald House Charities for providing hand-made craft items, more than 150 Prom dresses and grants of over $9,000 to purchase new beds and cribs for more than fifty babies and children in foster care.

While 2013 was a banner year for us, it is also just the beginning. We have ambitious goals for 2014, starting with this year’s In Seventh Heaven on April 12. Follow us on Facebook for details as they happen, and please consider buying tickets, becoming a sponsor, or making a financial contribution to support us in serving even more foster children, families, and young people aging out of the foster care system.

Every foster child and teen you help makes a difference, and not “just” in the life of that child; the effects are felt by that child’s eventual children and grandchildren … down through the seventh generation. On behalf of the DMBAF and all of us here at FTSG, thank you from the depths of our hearts for making things brighter for today’s foster children and for your impact on our community’s future.

Yours In Service,
Lorraine

P.S.: If you’d like to join Hour Detroit and Meijer as sponsors of this year’s In Seventh Heaven, please contact me right away at (313) 961-6120 ext. 206 or by email at lweber@detroitlawyer.org

Prom Palooza 2013 – ‘This Was the Best Experience For Me!”

With the help of For The Seventh Generation, going to Prom become a reality.
– Deline Echols, A Place of Refuge

Most kids in our area don’t really have to worry about being able to go to Prom; sadly, though, that’s not the case for southeast Michigan teens in foster care. For them, Prom is just another expense that isn’t in the budget.  That’s why we held the first of what we hope will be an annual For The Seventh Generation Help Closet event: Prom Palooza. Thankfully, the community joined in — and together we made Prom possible for several southeast Michigan foster kids who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to go.

PromPaloosa was Deline Echols’ first experience with For The Seventh Generation. Deline, who works for A Place of Refuge, a Southfield organization that serves young people who are aging out of the foster care system, didn’t think she’d be able to find appropriate Prom clothing for a young man in her agency’s care. Prom

But thanks to Valente’s Men’s Formal Wear in Grosse Pointe, he wasn’t just able to dress well – he went to his prom in a custom-fitted tux.

Deline says the young man had a great time at Valente’s.

“This was his first time being fitted and wearing a tuxedo,” she tells us. “He felt like a king because this was something he had never experienced before. He really enjoyed the opportunity to have something that was tailored to his style and body. He says the staff were very polite when assisting him. When he received his tuxedo he had the biggest smile and could not wait to get dressed!”

Later, at his prom, “…he felt like he was on top of the world. This was his first big event all dressed up besides going to church. He really enjoyed himself; he danced and ate the night away!”

“Going to prom meant the world to him,” Deline says. “At first we were not sure if he would have the opportunity to even participate in Prom because funds were very limited. With the help of For The Seventh Generation, going to Prom become a reality.”

Young men weren’t the only area foster kids we were able to help get to Prom. One young woman, Danielle, says that going to our Help Closet and picking out her prom dress “…made me feel special … we could look at all the stuff and pick whatever we liked; they even let me get clothing to use for job interviews.”

Another young lady, Seaince, says, “I was stressed out about my prom dress and how I was going to pay for it.  This was the best experience for me! — I [had] a dress and it look[ed] great on me!!”

We couldn’t have done it without you – many, many thanks to our PromPalooza donors!

The Grosse Pointe Valente’s wasn’t alone in helping us make Prom come true for our area’s foster children. One donor alone, WBHK 98.7 KISS FM, provided 150 prom dresses! Sam Michael’s Menswear in Farmington Hills came through for a young man in need of a tux, and Cafana Cleaners in Detroit has donated sturdy plastic storage bags for our leftover prom dresses so they will be fresh for next year. Melissa Covell of Foster Care Navigators and Countrywood Florist in Romulus also stepped up to help our young people get to Prom.

And we can’t forget P.I.N.K. Detroit and Pretty Faces, which provided volunteers to help “our” young ladies get their hair and makeup Prom-ready!

Can You Help a Young Person in Foster Care? For The Seventh Generation Needs You!

Prom Palooza is over for this year, but our area’s foster children, foster families, and young people aging out of foster care still have needs: everything from orthodontic care to tickets to sporting events, and music lessons to mentors. In other words, all of the “extras” that help children and teenagers thrive.

If you have gently-used/new items to donate or are a professional with expertise you’d like to volunteer, please click here to register with us so we can match you/your donation with a foster child in need.

If you’d like to make a monetary donation, please click here.

All it takes is one gift, one child, one year – and you will have affected our community down through the Seventh Generation.

My “Barbie”

-Jasmine Charlton

Barbie FantasiesBarbies® are many girls’ first toys, and we think that they’re beautiful, smart, fearless, and perfect in almost every way. At a young age, girls get this notion of life that in order to have the Barbie house, car, success, and family we must look and be perfect – oh, yeah, and love the color pink.

But to me those requirements seemed flawed — not because I wanted it that way, but because my luck just didn’t catch well. Or so I thought.

I wasn’t cute. I’ll be the first to admit it. I was skinny, abused, and buck-toothed: a horrid combination. I’d often wonder if “Barbie” really existed, and if she went through struggles to obtain her perfect life and be idolized by girls worldwide. As the years passed, my thoughts about Barbie and her perfect life never lagged far behind.

But when I was fifteen, I received braces. Something I never imagined happening actually occurred! My friends who wore braces often complained about them, but I embraced the metal living in my mouth. My braces were only on for two years, but their effect would last a lifetime.

In college, I promised to be everything I never could be in high school. While growing up I was moved to several different foster homes, so extra-curricular activities and girlfriends weren’t common, but now with my smile and wittiness I decided I wouldn’t experience the same misfortune. But then something happened, something life-changing… I found my Barbie when I met my mentor LaDonna Young, one of my bosses at my job at Saginaw Valley State University.

Jasmine with her "Barbie," LaDonna Young

Jasmine with her “Barbie,” LaDonna Young

LaDonna hates that I call her that, but up until now, I never really explained how I gave her that title. To me Barbie is a role model — someone that you mirror, with small modifications, to create your own path. Just like the doll I had before I had braces, I told my Barbie – LaDonna — the secrets that I couldn’t imagine sharing with anyone else and she was there to listen, laugh, cry, and push me to succeed (no matter how hard the push needed to be). I also followed her advice, though I admit she sometimes had to give it repeatedly!

Now that I’ve graduated from college I want to be like my Barbie LaDonna; I want to mentor and help girls like me. I want to show them that Barbies aren’t imaginary, but live within each girl in her own special way. My smile made it possible to venture out and find my Barbie — the fearless, smart, and beautiful young woman I thought never existed. But then LaDonna helped me find my own Barbie…. the one who lives inside of me.

About Jasmine – and How You Can Help More Foster Children Go On To College

Jasmine Charlton was the first foster child to receive help from For The Seventh Generation. You can see her story here and read Dr. Maria Pinzon’s account of working with Jasmine here.

Last May, Jasmine Charlton graduated from college – an accomplishment shared by only three-four percent of foster children.

Would you like to help a metro Detroit-area foster child thrive to increase the chance that he or she will go to – and graduate from – college? Register to help a foster child through For the Seventh Generation today. Your help as a mentor – or your professional expertise as an orthodontist, music teacher, or other child-related expert – can make all the difference. Be a “Barbie” for a child today and help that child become a successful adult tomorrow!

Barbie Fantasies photo courtesy Barbie Fantasies via Flickr

Giving Foster Children the Gift of a Beautiful Smile

It was a brisk, cold April day outside, but inside there was nothing but warm, welcoming smiles for the first group of metro Detroit foster children and teens to be seen by a new program courtesy of the University of Detroit Mercy’s Orthodontics program, the Detroit Department of Human Services and For The Seventh Generation.

The program, which was facilitated by For The Seventh Generation Executive Director Lorraine Weber, will provide orthodontic services for Wayne County children and teens who are permanent wards of the court – in other words, young people who have been permanently removed from their birth parents for their own safety and well being. Thirty-one young people were served during the initial screening on April 5. Future plans include outreach to private agencies and a continuing schedule for new candidates to be evaluated and treated.

The Postgraduate Orthodontics department is a program of University of Detroit Dr. Richard Kulbersh, Department Chair in Orthodontics April 5Mercy’s School of Dentistry. The head of the department, Dr. Richard Kulbersh (shown here, working with one of the children being screened), was among the faculty and students who worked with the foster children on April 5.

It’s embarrassing enough for a child or teen to feel unable to smile or to eat properly because her or his teeth aren’t aligned correctly. Imagine how that same situation feels to a young person who has already seen more than their share of hardship – more than many adults ever see – and you’ll know just why this program is so important.

We’d like to thank Dr. Kulbersh along with his faculty, staff, and students, Sheila Roberts of the Detroit DHS, and everyone else who are working together to give foster children and teens in our area the gift of a beautiful smile!

Meanwhile, we are still looking for orthodontists to work with children and teens who are in temporary foster care throughout the metro Detroit area. If you can help, please sign up on our easy-to-use-website today!

Spanning the Generations — Senior Moving Company Donates to FTSG’s Help Closet

Over this past winter For The Seventh Generation’s Help Closet Coordinator, Shirley Roseman, put out a call for beds and bedding for several metro Detroit-are foster children and families.

Photo courtesy fmgbain via FlickrOur Help Closet is relatively new, having just opened within the past year, so we’re still building partnerships and putting ourselves on the map of potential places that make these kinds of donations. With that in mind, we were worried about how quickly we’d be able to fill the requests and make sure “our” foster kids had a comfortable place to sleep.

Fortunately for those metro foster children and families, Moving Forward  and the Park West Gallery Foundation  stepped up to the plate to help.

Moving Forward  is a small company in Highland, Michigan that helps elders when it comes time to downsize their living situation. When seniors decide it’s time to move to a smaller home, an apartment, or an assisted living facility, Moving Forward takes care of everything – literally, from packing and unpacking to putting knick-knacks where they belong on the right shelves and setting clocks to the correct time.

IMG_8515In addition, they help seniors by disposing of anything the elders can’t or don’t want to bring to their new home – and that’s where the Park West Gallery Foundation  came in. The Foundation, which focuses on young adults in foster care and transitioning out of foster care, made a pickup at Moving Forward’s  warehouse – and took extra to drop off at the FTSG Help Closet.

“We literally rent a U-Haul three times a week,” to pick up donations for older foster youth, said Park West Gallery Foundation Program Director Saba Gebrai, “so it was no trouble to make a delivery to the Help Closet in addition to our usual round.” In fact, the Park West Gallery has been a long-time supporter of For The Seventh Generation, including sponsoring our yearly In Seventh Heaven fundraising event.

Moving Forward founder and owner LouAnne Audette told us that her clients are thrilled when they hear that their belongings are going directly to young people who need assistance. “They like it so much better than having us donate to the Salvation Army or other charities where people then have to pay for the items,” she explained. “This way they know they’re giving a real gift, and it makes them feel wonderful.”

Young adults in foster care and youth aging out of the foster care system need all sorts of furnishings, home appliances, and all of the little extras that most of us take for granted. While the Department of Human Services does what it can, the fact is that it can’t do very much to give these at-risk youth the kind of transition to adulthood that all young people deserve. If you can follow in the footsteps of Moving Forward, please consider making a donation of goods, services – or funds – to For The Seventh Generation today by clicking here.

Photos Vicky’s new bed and Bed Jumping courtesy of fmgbain and misspixels via Flickr

From Foster Kid to College Scholar: Progams, financial help are in place to help Michigan’s foster children excel

One of the most important factors influencing whether or not a child will be successful in school and ultimately go on to college is stability at home – and stability, let alone a consistent home, are frequently among the many things lacking in the lives of Michigan’s foster children.

The result is a shocking statistic: only roughly ten percent of young adults in college fund by Tax Credits flickrfoster care go on to college – and of them, only two to three percent graduate. Fortunately, several Michigan universities are doing something about the problem and there are also numerous scholarships available to help ensure that current and former foster children have a better chance to succeed in college and become productive adults.

The most extensive such effort – not only in Michigan, but most likely in the entire US –  is Western Michigan University’s Seita Scholars program, which provides a full scholarship and extensive personal coaching to foster youth. At the time of this January 13, 2013 article, the program was serving 160 students from thirty-five counties across Michigan.

Michigan State, the University of Michigan, and Aquinas College have smaller-scale programs as well. In addition, the Michigan Department of Social Services has earmarked $600,000 for “independent living coaches” to assist several Michigan college students who have aged-out of foster care.

Are you about to age out of foster care, or are you a social service worker looking for options for wards of the court under your supervision who want to go to college? Here is a partial list of links to make searching a bit easier. Please email additional resources to Dawn Wolfe at dawnwolfe at the number fourteen ghz dot com for inclusion in later editions of this post.

Programs for foster youth at Michigan’s universities:

Other College Resources for Foster Youth:

Photo courtesy Tax Credits via flickr

Changing the lives of foster children one smile at a time

Maria Pinzon, D.D.S.Pinzon

I first heard about For The Seventh Generation and the possibility of working with metro area foster children when my patient Kelly Ramsey approached me in late 2004. Pro bono work has always been part of my practice, so I was happy to help, and thrilled when in early 2005, I started working with my first For The Seventh Generation referred patient, a fourteen year old girl named Jasmine.

When Jasmine first came to my office she was a shy, introverted young girl who had severe dental protrusion because of a childhood spent sucking her thumb. The first thing she and I worked on was getting her to stop the thumb-sucking habit. I explained braces wouldn’t help if she couldn’t stop relying on her thumb, and gave her resources to ultimately discontinue her habit. Six months later, Jasmine was ready to begin Orthodontic treatment.

One of the fantastic things about being an orthodontist is that I get to spend a substantial amount of time with my patients, interacting with and getting to know them as we work together on their treatment. Over the next year and a half, I watched Jasmine literally bloom into a self-confident, caring, giving individual. Jasmine told me all about her first babysitting job – and her plans to buy a present for her best friend with her first paycheck. As her teeth straightened and her smile became more attractive, she obviously started feeling better about herself and her prospects for the future.

It’s hard to imagine the things that foster children go through – and being able to help turn Jasmine’s entire life around, with something as minor as orthodontic treatment, was such a reward!

I lost contact with Jasmine after we finished her treatment, but a few years later I saw her at a For The Seventh Generation fundraising event. Jasmine looked beautiful! During the event, she spoke about the difference that For The Seventh Generation made in her life, and I felt a lot of pride knowing I was part of that difference. Today, Jasmine is in college and plans to become an attorney advocating for the next generation of children in foster care.

I worked with another young woman in foster care after completing Jasmine’s treatment, and I learned that not every young person is as resilient and ready to turn his or her life around as Jasmine was. But whether or not we as volunteers are able to bond with our patients as I did with Jasmine, we are still changing young lives for the better.

If you’re considering providing volunteer services to a metro Detroit-area foster child or family, I encourage you to make the commitment. For The Seventh Generation makes the process easy – and however you choose to contribute your time and effort, I guarantee that working with this organization will change your life for the better.

I am currently completing treatment on several pro bono patients, and am looking forward to working with more foster children referred by For The Seventh Generation. Please join in, one child at a time. We as professionals really can leave a positive effect on our community for the next seven generations!

For more about Jasmine’s story, check out this video from the FTSG Facebook page:

 

Getting the Goods for Metro Detroit’s Foster Children – Help Closet Coordinator Shirley Roseman

Shirley Roseman shows off some of our Help Closet items to vounteer Deb Fedon-Keyt

Shirley (right) shows volunteer Deb Fedon-Keyt around the Help Closet

“Lorraine Weber and Kelly Ramsey’s mission to meet the needs of our area’s foster children tugged at my heart,” says For The Seventh Generation Help Closet Coordinator and all-round Angel of Making Things Happen Shirley Roseman. “I have a heart for children, especially children in need, and working with this organization is right down my alley with the new career I’m pursuing in non-profit administration and management.”

In addition to managing the Help Closet, Shirley also plays a key role matching donors who have signed up with the FTSG database with the requests we’ve received from metro-Detroit area foster care workers.

“One of the things I try to do is make a match with the goods and services that are donated,” she explains. “First, foster care workers or “referrers” create an online account to let us know what they need for the children they’re working with. Then I look at our database of donors who have or are able to donate those items or services to let them know we have a foster child in need. After I check to make sure the donor is still available and willing, I give the referrer a call and let them know we have a match for them. I’m also available to help with any questions or issues that might arise during the donation process.”

Since she came on board, Shirley has also been going above and beyond when it comes to reaching out to potential donors of everything from beds and bedding to Karate lessons.

“I was expecting that our foster children would need clothing and outerwear, but I never thought that there would be such a shortage of beds!,” she says. “We currently have quite a few requests for beds and cribs – many times when I talk with workers I hear that the children they’re serving don’t have adequate sleeping arrangements. One of my quests is to find a company or manufacturer that would partner with us to take their discontinued or returned items,” so that our area’s foster children can benefit from a good night’s sleep every night.

As for the Karate lessons, Shirley called around and found a dojo owner to fill an older request. “We were able to generate a new service – I want foster workers to know they can ask for all sorts of goods and services and we will do our best fill those needs.”

Shirley also reports that she’s in the process of matching an orthodontist who has volunteered to provide two foster children with urgently-needed orthodontic care – another ongoing need because Medicaid doesn’t pick up the cost of such services for children and young adults in the foster care system.

Before Shirley joined us, she spent the majority of her career as a salesperson in real estate.  In her spare time, she gave a significant amount of hours volunteering for non-profit organizations and community events around the Detroit Metropolitan area and still remains active today. “Non profit work is my true passion,” she says.

Can you help metro Detroit’s foster children with a donation of (new or nearly-new) goods or services? Just click here to learn about donation and/or volunteering options, or contact Shirley Roseman at info@fortheseventhgeneration.org for more information.

Holiday Bazaar Brings Christmas Cheer to Detroit-Area Foster Children

— Help Closet Coordinator Shirley Roseman

Starting with a special kick-off event on Saturday, December 15th and running during our Help Closet’s regular hours through Friday, Dec. 21st, the first FTSG Help Closet Holiday Bazaar served approximately seventy metro Detroit foster children, foster families, and foster care workers this holiday season.

Lots of holiday toys were available during the 2012 Holiday Bazaar for foster children

Lots of holiday toys were available during the 2012 Holiday Bazaar for foster children

Our kickoff event, which took place during the afternoon, featured volunteer holiday gift-wrappers, refreshments, and creative activities including a chance to create hand-made holiday cards. There were definitely smiles all-round!

Thanks to generous donations by the Rotary Club of Detroit and other donors we were able to offer our holiday “shoppers” an ample inventory of new toys and holiday gifts for children aged twelve and younger. These donations were in addition to the items we usually have on hand at the Help Closet including clothing, toys, electronics and other items.

Detroit Rotarian Ray Opezzo serving up the popcorn.

Detroit Rotarian Ray Opezzo serving up the popcorn.

The generosity of the Rotary, our Samaritan Center hosts, and other area organizations, businesses, and individuals has made a big difference this year, and we already plan on making the Bazaar a holiday tradition!

Please note that the Help Closet will be closed from Monday, Dec. 25 – Thursday, Jan. 4. Still want to arrange to make a future donation? Not a problem! – just click here to be taken to For The Seventh Generation’s donation page and we’ll contact you after the holidays!