For The Seventh Generation makes it
possible for foster children to thrive
TEXT BY DONALD V. CALAMIA
“[Jasmine] is laughing and smiling, and she feels a whole lot better about herself … She has acquired self-esteem and a personality of her own. Jasmine has come out of her shell.”
-Dr. Maria L. Pinzon, DDS
When 12-year-old Jasmine first arrived at the dental office of Dr. Maria L.Pinzon, the shy and introverted youngster was in need of long-term orthodontic treatment to correct her open bite and straighten her teeth.
Just a few years later, Jasmine's teeth and smile aren't the only things that have been transformed. “She’s laughing and smiling, and she feels a whole lot better about herself,” Pinzon said of her patient. “She has acquired self-esteem and a personality of her own. Jasmine has come out of her shell.”
What makes this story unique? Jasmine is a foster child, and she and Dr. Pinzon were
brought together by For The Seventh Generation.
Established in 2005 by the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association Foundation in cooperation
with the 3rd Judicial Circuit Court and the Department of Human Services, For The Seventh
Generation matches donations of services and goods with the foster children and foster
families who need them.
According to Chief Referee Kelly Ann Ramsey of the court’s Family Division, Juvenile
Section, there's a huge need for such assistance. “Our court is designed to take care of
the basic needs of foster children. Sadly, these kids have a lot of needs that go far
beyond the court’s ability to solve, and with our limited resources, we can only do
Foster children – like all children – need more than just shelter and food. In Metropolitan
Detroit, For The Seventh Generation works to fill those other needs so children in foster
care can do more than just survive – they can thrive.
The idea to create the program came to Ramsey while she was serving on a task force
seeking pro bono legal services for foster children. Previously, Ramsey's own personal
dentist had agreed to provide free treatment to a domestic violence victim. Thinking about
the incident, Ramsey had a brainstorm.
“Why should we stop with legal services? Why aren’t the medical and dental professions
also willing to provide services to foster children?”
Committee chair and DMBA Foundation Director Lorraine Weber was immediately interested
in turning the idea into a working model.
It wasn’t long before several area dentists agreed to provide treatment and to test whether the
idea could succeed. In the meantime, Weber developed the software that makes For The
Seventh Generation such an efficient, low-overhead program, and the DMBA Foundation
voted to provide financial support.
For The Seventh Generation has gone on to match dozens of foster children with donors
providing everything from stylish glasses to orthodontic care to prom dresses. In 2012 the
program is poised for explosive growth thanks to new funding from the DMBAF and a focus
on aggressively seeking out and applying for grant funding. As a result, For The Seventh
Generation may be able to help as many as five hundred foster children receive needed
dental care alone within the next year.
In addition, For The Seventh Generation is launching Play It Forward!, a new program to
provide free music lessons and instruments to foster children, with spaces for twenty children
during the program's first year.
In the meantime, Jasmine has moved from a residential facility for children with emotional
and developmental disabilities to an honors college student and member of student government
with plans to attend law school..
It's a Simple Concept – One Foster Child, One Gift, One Year
If you're ready to make a small commitment that will make a huge difference in the life of a
foster child in Metropolitan Detroit, click here to see how you can help. If you're a social service
professional who is aware of a foster child in need, click here to submit your application so
we can start going to work to support that child.
We must recognize that the actions we take today will have an impact
far beyond the current generation. How we deal with the most
vulnerable children today will affect their progeny for years to come.
We must work for the seventh generation.