#GivingTuesday: Support Former Foster Youth

Today is #GivingTuesday, a global movement that connects diverse groups of individuals, communities, and organizations around the world for one common purpose: to celebrate and encourage giving. This year PRIDE Industries is raising funds to support former foster youth as they navigate an uncertain future.

Each year 20,000+ youths in the United States emancipate from foster care, with most lacking critical support as they transition to young adulthood. An estimated 30-50 percent of youth in the foster care system exit without a high school diploma or GED. Only about 8% of foster youth go on to post-secondary education, and 5% or less of those ultimately earn a degree. Within 18 months of exiting foster care 50% are homeless.

PRIDE proudly helps young adults in, and emancipating from, the foster care system develop independence and self-sufficiency skills. PRIDE’s Youth Services provide support and guidance to teens while connecting them to their community. This success is made possible by your generous donations to PRIDE Industries through our Development and Donor Services program, click here to donate now.

“Thanks to PRIDE’s assistance, I have been able to start saving up for a vehicle and build a foundation for when I am ready to start a trade program.” — Scott

 

Scott’s Story:
It has been an exciting year for Scott, a high school senior who is currently on track to graduate from high school and getting ready to start a new, independent adult life. Like many of his peers, Scott participates in a variety of activities, including martial arts and fixing cars, and plans on attending community college to study mechanics or a technical trade.

From a very young age, Scott has had to face many challenges. Due to a turbulent and unstable family home life, he was placed in foster care, twice – once as a small child and again when he was 15. To get through these rough times, Scott turned to his brother and sister for support.

“My siblings and I all banded together during our family’s rough periods. They also helped me navigate through school,” said Scott. “When I was young, I was bullied and often struggled to make friends due to other kids not understanding my disabilities. As I got older, it became easier to connect with others. My family and close friends have continued to help me get to where I am today.”

As he started nearing the end of high school, Scott began exploring career options with his guidance counselor. She recommended PRIDE’s Youth Services Program.

To help guide him through this process, Scott was first provided with a PRIDE Job Developer/ Transitional Coordinator, Chrystie Martin in 2017. “At first it felt a little uncomfortable getting help,” said Scott. “However, it became easier as we started meeting together on a regular basis to work on employment preparation, building my resume and filling out job applications.”

In addition to helping youth with job preparation and placement, Job Developers also work with program participants on building life skills and soft-skills. Funding for Job Development services is possible from generous donations to PRIDE Industries. To prepare Scott for adulthood and self-sufficiency, Chrystie worked with him on fundamentals such as budgeting, obtaining a bank account and navigating public transportation.  Once he overcame these hurdles and gained these essentials skills, Scott was on his way to getting a job.

With Chrystie’s assistance, Scott received a paid internship at a local drugstore. “It was a big learning process for me,” said Scott. “So many things were new, especially dealing with difficult customers. I realized that many were either frustrated or just having a bad day; the key to working with them was learning how to relate with patience.” Through the internship, Scott learned how to interact with customers and the importance of providing outstanding customer service – a skill he can apply at any future job.

After completing his internship, Scott landed a position at an event and party planning company. “The confidence I gained from my previous position helped me develop better communication skills with my new supervisors and coworkers, including active listening and asking follow-up questions when given a new task.”

In Fall 2018, Scott stepped down from his position to focus on finishing up his high school program and is currently working on-call in a custodial position. “Thanks to PRIDE’s assistance, I have been able to start saving up for a vehicle and build a foundation for when I am ready to start a trade program,” said Scott. “It’s been wonderful seeing Scott’s skills and confidence improving over the past years,” said Chrystie. “We wish him the best as he graduates from high school and applies for college programs.”

Scott was able to overcome challenges to employment and gain essential life skills thanks to generous donations made to PRIDE Industries through our Development and Donor Services program.

 

How can you make a difference for foster youth?

  • Donate now to help emancipated foster youth find purpose and independence through meaningful employment.
  • Spread the word – share this and many other success stories on PRIDE’s blog with your friends and family on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

 

Kenny’s Road to Recovery

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Overcoming troubled youth and creating a brighter future is not easy to do. It is especially difficult when substance abuse and an unstable home environment are present.

Kenny Avila, 20, is a graduate of PRIDE Industries Youth Services Program, and a former foster youth. PRIDE’s Youth Services Program provides support and guidance for teens in the foster care system. PRIDE’s program help teens and young adults overcome obstacles to employment while helping them pave the way to self-sufficiency.

Kenny came from a broken family and fractured past. His introduction to drugs began at the age of seven when a friend got him high on marijuana. He became more immersed in drugs in middle school as the result of peer pressure. By the age of 14, he was using drugs frequently. He also began drinking with friends. For two years, he got high every single day until the age of 16. Smoking marijuana and drinking became part of his lifestyle and led him to get involved with the wrong crowd.

His young life was spiraling out of control. By 16, Kenny had been in and out of jail repeatedly. He fought and began stealing to support his habit. He violated probation repeatedly. Running out of options and feeling defeated, his father talked to Kenny’s probation officer. Soon after, Kenny entered Koinonia Homes for Teens, a highly structured, professional inpatient substance abuse treatment facility for adolescents.

At Koinonia, Kenny had an awakening. “I think it was my first weekend at Koinonia that I went to church.” The experience changed his life forever. “After that, everything began to change,” Kenny recalls. Slowly, Kenny began to see the world in a different light. The more he learned, the more he was able to make positive changes. “I gave my life to Jesus.” His newfound faith and devotion also made an impact on his family. The transformation was all around him, which helped with his recovery process.

Part of the recovery program at Koinonia involves educational classes that are taught by PRIDE Industries Youth Services counselors. Classes cover topics including money management, healthy relationships, setting boundaries, drug awareness and vocational readiness. Kenny learned valuable lessons and skills through these classes. “It was as if I were a baby learning all over again,” Kenny says. “By learning what was unhealthy for me, I began to change.”

Change does not always come easily; there were some difficult moments during Kenny’s road to recovery. One evening during his stay at Koinonia, he received word that one of his younger sisters was going to be a teen mom in a few months. Kenny felt tremendous guilt for his sister’s choices, fearing that he had set a bad example. Through this event, he realized what tremendous impact his choices had on others. If he chose a better path – he could help others to do the same.

Life was different now; the call and his newfound devotion confirmed this choice. He now had a purpose and was determined to share it with the world. He completed the rehabilitation program and excelled. “It was definitely a challenge; it was one of the hardest things I have ever done so far in my life,” Kenny says. “But, it helped me greatly.”

In an effort to improve his outcome, Kenny interned at PRIDE Industries and received hands-on vocational training. Soon after, he was recruited to work at PRIDE’s William Jessup University custodial contract. Later, Kenny enrolled at William Jessup University (WJU).

In a few weeks, Kenny will be starting his junior year. He is majoring in Bible and Theology. As a WJU student, Kenny has the opportunity to help others outside of his immediate circle. Through the university’s Missions Program, Kenny has participated in missionary work abroad. This summer, he traveled to Romania with a group of WJU students working with orphanages in Romanian communities. This is Kenny’s second summer with this effort.

Kenny is passionate about supporting other youth. He uses his story to help and serve others. “I like to work with kids – youth – because I know they are at a vulnerable time,” Kenny says. “My younger years were tough. I know I am not the only one who has struggled. I want to use my story to empower and help others.”

Helping others is now his mission in life. Kenny is a full-time student at WJU and on staff at Koinonia Homes for Teens. As a Childcare Counselor, he helps program participants overcome addiction and live a better life. He is paying it forward. Kenny spends time helping the boys with, “everything from teaching them not to be gross at the table to teaching them how to live life respectfully and with integrity.”

What’s next for Kenny? Once he is done with his studies at WJU, he plans to continue studying divinity while working on a Masters or Doctorate. One thing is for sure, “Whether travelling the world and preaching…I just want to serve God.”

Kenny is an inspiration to us all; he knows he is one of the lucky ones who successfully transitioned out of foster care and is now able to live a healthy sober adulthood. As a young adult, Kenny recognizes how lucky he was to be removed from his negative environment. “I would probably be dead, or in prison. I was not doing the right things at all,” Kenny says.

Kenny has overcome a lot in his short 20 years of life. We look forward to following his path and will continue to cheer him on. We wish you the best, Kenny!

PRIDE Employees Help Fight Hunger

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PRIDE Industries employees their family members volunteered on Saturday March 22nd at Placer Food Bank in Roseville, to package food items and prepare them for distribution to California children and families in need. PRIDE’s own President and CEO, Michael Ziegler, joined our PRIDE in Action group for a day that was rewarding to all involved.

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Placer Food Bank is dedicated to feeding the hungry through a network of partner agencies, while educating the community about hunger and advocating for hunger relief. Their programs serve nearly 90,000 individuals throughout Placer, El Dorado and Nevada counties who are experiencing hunger of some kind.

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The PRIDE In Action group helped with the Food Bank’s Backpack Program. This Program helps meet the needs of hungry children by providing easy-to-prepare food to take home on weekends and during school vacations. Children from local elementary schools are given a “backpack,” containing food that is child-friendly, non-perishable, and easily consumed. PRIDE’s volunteers re-packaged more than 600 meals for distribution at Placer County elementary schools.

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PRIDE in Action is a platform for PRIDE employees, family members and friends to be active in the community while voluntarily representing PRIDE Industries. If you live in the greater Sacramento area, and have an idea for a PRIDE in Action event – email us at info@prideindustries.com. If you work at a distant site, email us about setting up a PRIDE in Action event at your location.

For more information about Placer Food Bank, their Backpack Program visit http://www.placerfoodbank.org.

PRIDE Employees Help Placer Food Bank with Community Garden

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Twenty-four volunteers made up of PRIDE Industries employees, family and friends harvested more than 100 pounds of vegetables at a Placer Food Bank Community Garden in Granite Bay, on Saturday, Nov. 9.

Placer Food Bank is dedicated to feeding the hungry through a network of partners while educating the community about hunger and advocating for relief. One of its five programs is Placer Community Gardens, which provides fresh food to individuals in the community. Currently, Placer Food Bank programs address hunger needs for nearly 90,000 individuals throughout Placer, El Dorado and Nevada counties.

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PRIDE volunteers helped at the Community Garden located at Otow Orchard, a family owned orchard off Eureka Road in Granite Bay. Otow Orchard donated one-fifth of an acre to benefit Placer Food Bank’s efforts. In partnership with the Rotary Club of Roseville and countless volunteers, more than 2000 pounds of fresh food have been harvested since the garden began in April 2013.

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“It was such a beautiful morning, and I was amazed by how much we got to harvest,” says Marcy S., a PRIDE Industries employee. “The experience was so great my family wants to start going every Saturday.”

Fresh food and produce harvested from the garden, is distributed to local hunger-relief organizations including food pantries/closets, soup kitchens, senior and children’s programs and churches.

“I really appreciate giving my family the opportunity to be a part of such a rewarding experience,” says Serena O., a PRIDE Industries employee. 

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“It’s rare to find experiences that a teenager and a three year old can both equally enjoy and feel a sense of accomplishment. Looking forward to the next event!”

PRIDE employees along with their family and friends give back to the community through the PRIDE in Action group. Group members pitched in to harvest veggies, and rebuild a tool shed disassembled by the elements.

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“The efforts and dedication of the Rotary group has inspired me to want to reach out and give back more,” says Karen S., a PRIDE Industries employee. “It was validation that giving back does not have to be in monetary contributions, but in time and physical effort.”

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The PRIDE in Action group is a platform for individuals to be active together in the community while voluntarily representing PRIDE Industries. If you live in the greater Sacramento area, and would like to participate in future PRIDE in Action events – or if your organization is looking for volunteers, please email us at info@prideindustries.com with “PRIDE in Action” in the subject line.

For more information, about Placer Food Bank and their programs visit www.placerfoodbank.org.

PRIDE In Action Volunteers at Placer Food Bank

Most school-age children look forward to the weekend. However, for 29,000 children in Placer County, weekends and holiday vacations may mean going with little to no food.

PRIDE in Action is a group of PRIDE Industries employees, their family members and friends, volunteering their time in the community. The group believes that one person can make a difference, and if we unite, we can make an even greater impact. PRIDE in Action volunteered at Placer Food Bank on Saturday, November 10th, 2012.

Placer Food Bank is dedicated to feeding the hungry through a network of partner agencies, while educating the community about hunger and advocating for hunger relief. Their vision is to eliminate hunger. On Saturday, PRIDE in Action lent a hand by helping with their Backpack Program. The Backpack Program helps meet the needs of hungry children by providing them easy-to-prepare food to take home on weekends and school vacations. The program provides food that is child-friendly, non-perishable, and easily consumed. Children from local elementary schools are given a “backpack,” a gallon size bag, containing two microwaveable meals, two juice boxes, two cereal boxes, a fruit cup, and two shelf stable milks. The Backpack Program currently provides 615 school age children with meals each week.

Fourteen PRIDE in Action volunteers including PRIDE employees and their family members, pitched in. Together, the group re-packaged more than 2,400 meals for distribution at three Placer County elementary schools.

My husband and I were excited to volunteer for the first time at the Placer Food Bank with our boys. We feel it is important for them to understand how many kids and adults do not have food readily available to them,” said Dana Almora, a PRIDE Industries employee and PRIDE in Action volunteer. “We talk about it, however, we wanted to show them first-hand how they can make a difference. Kids at any age are never too young to learn the spirit of giving, especially during this Thanksgiving season.”

PRIDE in Action is currently collecting gently-used or new coats for a community drive. Donations can be dropped at the PRIDE Industries Roseville Headquarters lobby in Roseville.

PRIDE in Action is open to employees, family members and friends. If you live in the Sacramento area, and would like to participate in future PRIDE in Action events, please email us at info@prideindustries.com with “PRIDE in Action” as the subject.

Thank you so much to all of our PRIDE in Action volunteers, Placer Food Bank and United Way for making this collaborative effort a reality! We hope that with our joint efforts fewer children will go hungry.

For more information about Placer Food Bank, their Backpack Program visit http://www.placerfoodbank.org.