Stories of Connection: Bringing people together is the joy of our work.
“What I love about Fostering Great Ideas is that we focus on relationships.”
For each of our programs, care and attention is focused on our clients:
- the child who was removed from the only life he knew finds dignity and hope through a mentor who cares.
- the mom who had her children removed from the home has someone to walk alongside her as she works toward a successful reunification.
- the foster parent overwhelmed with questions finds support and answers within in a strong community.
We are excited to share with you how we are building relationships today.
Our wonderful team of employees share their favorite stories from the first quarter of 2022.
* Some names have been changed to protect the identity of individuals.
Program Manager & Education Advocate, Tutor Match®
Bree is a 3rd grade student who had difficulty concentrating and often refused to complete her work. Bree was struggling with trauma-related issues and often shut down when anyone tried to assist her. Needless to say, she fell behind in school.
Bree’s tutor, Rylie, recognized that she needed to get to know Bree first. They seemed to bond immediately. One of the biggest successes is that Bree now looks forward to her tutoring time! She has grown significantly in her motivation and willingness to complete work.
Not only has Rylie been a great support for Bree, she has also been a great support for the foster mom. Rylie started attending IEP meetings with the foster mom, and through her strong advocacy at the school, they were able to get extra accommodations for Bree.
Rylie says that everyone, from the social worker, foster mom, the school, and herself as the tutor, has worked together as "Team Bree". Their combined advocacy and care have given Bree a reason to strive for the future.
Program Manager, Life Support®
In January, I received a very special request for a mentor. A young lady was in the hospital, at risk of harming herself. Her mom had passed away and her dad was not in her life. The case worker knew who to call: “She is terribly lonely and needs a supportive person to give her hope – can you help us?”
Through our Life Support mentoring program, the mentor has been visiting every week. She brings art supplies and spends time by her side.
The young lady will be released from the hospital later this month and will be moving farther away. But the relationship will remain. They will still connect through cards, email, and phone conversations. Her mentor will continue to provide the ongoing love, support and care this young lady so desperately needs.
Professional Life Coach, Aspire®
I originally met Daquan in 2017, and we discussed his dream of becoming a real estate agent. Time went by, and I didn’t hear from him for several years. Recently he re-connected. He was motivated to re-visit his dream and earn his real estate license. Juggling two jobs right now, Daquan is surviving, but our goal is to help him thrive by pursuing a career he is truly passionate about. Daquan will not be journeying alone. Through our Aspire program, he now has a mentor who is a realtor, and who will walk alongside Daquan as he goes for his dream.
Director of Community Response, Aspire®
Aspire helps pave the way for youth and young adults ages 14-26 as they transition from foster care to adulthood. We recently began partnering with Find Great People, a local employment agency that will provide professional career coaching for these youth.
Last week I received a call from Alyssa. She was excited to tell me about her second meeting with her career coach. She said the coach was understanding, patient and made her feel like a “whole person” for the first time since being in foster care. She said “I felt free!” They discussed her job skills, worked on a resume, and discussed her short and long term goals.
Alyssa now has a vision for her future beyond foster care. She stated “The agency gave me hope. The meeting made me feel like I can conquer anything… even my fears.”
Program Manager, Moms Matter®
Fostering Great Ideas cares for everyone we come in contact with, in any capacity that we can: Marie came to Moms Matter and became a rock and an inspiration for other Moms. We cheered her on to take the GED, but when she was ready to give up because the math was so hard for her I thought, “Doesn’t Marie deserve a tutor as much as the children do?”
So I reached out to our Tutor Match program manager, who agreed. But I’ll let Marie tell the rest of her story….
"My name is Marie and I've been coming to Moms Matter since 2020. Even though I've been reunited with my son, I still attend Moms Matter to help the new moms coming in. After my life calmed down a bit, I decided to start furthering my education. Eighth grade was the highest grade I had completed, and I really wanted to get my GED and start college to give my children the life they deserve.
I bought the GED book and started the adventure. I did fairly well until I got to the math section, which I just couldn't wrap my head around. Meanwhile, I learned that Fostering Great Ideas provides tutoring for children in foster care. As I wasn't a child in foster care, I thought tutoring wouldn’t be possible. I should have known that Dena would make a way for me. And she did!
I started working with my tutor in Aug of 2021. I've now completed about 4 years’ worth of math, and I'm so close to earning my GED that I've already signed up for college courses. My tutor has taught me SO much. He's kind, patient, smart, and I couldn't be more grateful for him. I can't wait to see what the future holds for my boys and myself."
Program Manager, Sib-Link®
A group of five brothers and sisters have been living in two separate placements in two different towns. These children have been through so much and have been rebuilding their trust and love for each other through Sib-Link visits over the past year.
When their cousin, Miriam, saw the positive effects these visits were having on their sibling relationships, she was stirred to take action. At the young age of 22, she made the selfless decision to raise all five of her younger cousins.
This sibling set will become fully reunited at the end of the school year when they move into kinship care with Miriam. They are all excited about this new chapter in their lives and can’t wait to live with one another once again.
The power of Sib-Link shows that siblings spending regular visit time together creates new pathways of possibility.
Program Manager, Sib-Link®
Sarah and her little brother Brayden live in separate foster homes about 3 hours apart. On a recent visit, Sarah talked to me about her adoption party that evening. She was excited to have a forever family! But then she got quiet. "Are you ok?" I asked. In a quiet voice she asked, "Will I still be able to see my brother?" Her eyes filled with tears. "Of COURSE!" I exclaimed! She quickly perked up.
At the visit, both children were going to ice-skate for the first time! Sarah was a little intimidated but not her brother! He took to the ice like a professional. "Let me help you!" he said to his sister as he reached over for her hand. "I got you!" And she let go of the wall.
After skating, Brayden came up to me and whispered in my ear. "She is adopted now. Is this our last visit? Will I see her again?" Once again I exclaimed, "OF COURSE!" His smile grew from ear to ear, and off they ran to the playground.
Foster Care is hard. It is especially stressful when one sibling gets adopted and the other stays in the system. The question of "Will I ever see my Sibling again?" should be one less thing they have to worry about. It is imperative these children stay connected with their siblings, especially when it's the only true, stable connection they have had in their short lives.
Director of Foster Parent Recruitment & Support
A new foster parent was feeling frustrated. After listening to her and helping her process her experience, we were able to talk through her motivations to foster and the stage of life that her family is currently in. We identified options and talked through solutions. She realized that she hadn’t been communicating her hopes and anxieties to the people that really mattered in her life. In the end, she felt she was on the right path with the right agency and that her family was on board.
Fostering Great Ideas helped her to make a plan, moving forward with realistic expectations. We connected her to her local community of support and tangible resources. Acknowledging and understanding where people are in their journey strengthens our relationships.
Director of Advocacy
For generations, teens in South Carolina foster care have aged out on their 18th birthday, an unceremonious launch into adulthood. The outcomes and challenges these young adults experience are harsh. In the last several years there has been a push to extend the age of eligibility for foster care. Recently, South Carolina’s legislative leaders agreed that young people in this state can now stay in foster care until age 21. House bill 3509 was passed by the General Assembly in April and is ready to be ratified and sent to the Governor.
This legislation was championed by young advocates with lived experience. These advocates in South Carolina’s Youth Engagement Advocates Council, (YEA!), shared their experiences and how this legislation would help young people like them. They spoke truth to power so that others may have a better life. Their advocacy efforts have changed lives for generations to come.
Our Speak Up program is honored to elevate young leaders in YEA! by providing advocacy training, coaching, and community. Empowered by this support, teens in foster care are emerging into adulthood with inspiring futures.
We hope the stories above show how we put relationships first each day at Fostering Great Ideas.
Thank you for your support - we couldn't do this work without you.