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Fostering Connections St. Johns January/february newsletter

Dear Fostering Connections St. Johns Supporters,

I hope your 2020 is off to a great start!

Our Fostering Connections St. Johns Board of Directors has been working hard planning our 2020 programming year. We actively work with local agencies to fill the gaps and meet the current needs of our youth in foster care and their foster parents. Recently, there has been an increase of teens in foster care. There is a great need for foster homes for these young adults. The majority of our teens are being placed out of county, mostly in shelters or group homes, because there are not enough families able to foster teens. Their is a push nationally to reduce the number of group homes, leaving most teens in shelters. In some states, teens who have no criminal background are sleeping in offices, cars, or juvenile detention centers. This is heartbreaking and horrible for our teens, who already are going through the daily challenges of teenage life. We are working closely with our local agencies to educate the community about the needs of our teens in foster care.

In 2020, Fostering Connections St. Johns is launching several programs for teens and young children in foster care to help all of our youth in foster care reach their full potential.

Beginning March 28 through early April, we will be partnering with the Kookaburra and hosting the Career Readiness Academy for teens in foster care. Participants will learn how to apply for a job, write a resume, do a mock interview, learn job skills from Kookaburra team members, and increase their financial literacy knowledge from a local banker. They will tour the Kookaburra shops and have an opportunity to work alongside a barista. Graduates will leave with a job skills portfolio, a new work outfit, and connections to job opportunities in local restaurants and coffee shops.

In addition to our Career Readiness Workshop, we are also partnering with St. Johns River State College to host a week long Summer Leadership Camp in June for teens in foster care to learn about applying for college, touring the college, and develop their leadership and critical thinking skills and raising funds to endow a $25,000 scholarship for former foster youth to help cover expenses the state does not cover like textbooks. Only 3% of youth in foster care nationally go on to earn a Bachelor's degree. We are working to change this statistic. Stay tuned for more information!

For our younger youth in foster care, we are working with the Guardian ad Litem program to begin an Arts Program for GAL volunteers and the child they advocate for to participate. The GAL volunteer and the child will complete art projects in a project-learning style workshop to facilitate conversation and strengthen the mentoring relationship between the GAL volunteer advocate and the child they advocate for the program will begin March 7.

For families, we are partnering with the Council on Aging to begin a Grandparents Support Group for grandparents and other relatives who are full-time caregivers for grandchildren, nieces, or nephews. The first meeting was this month and we look forward to the next meeting on February 19. We will be continuing our annual events for foster families like the Back to School Bash and Foster Parent Appreciation Month - see a list of scheduled events listed below!

Kind Regards,

Aubrie Simpson-Gotham

Founder & President, Fostering Connections St. Johns

Scheduled Events for 2020!

Tipsy Tea Party!

On the 29th day of the leap year, 2020, guests will be invited to come through the gates of the invitation only venue, Fantasy Farms, for a whimsical cocktail party! The evening will begin with a cocktail hour and heavy hors d'oeuvres. Local restaurants and mixologists will have their best hand crafted whimsical desserts and cocktails for guests to sample and vote for their favorites. After sampling the best whimsical desserts and cocktails, guests can enjoy live entertainment, bid on silent auction items, and explore Fantasy Farms’ vast property, which includes beautiful rescue animals, classic cars, and kitschy artifacts. Proceeds from Tipsy Tea will benefit Fostering Connections St. Johns' leadership programs and a college scholarship for youth transitioning out of foster care.

Save the Date!

When: Thursday, May 28, 2020, 6:00-9:00 p.m.

Where: First Coast Technical College

Join us as we honor our supporters and the foster families we support, celebrate our inaugural year of service to the community, and share our vision for the future. Tickets will be available February 1st - please check our Facebook page for an official announcement!

You're also not going to want to miss this summertime fun:

Charity Raffle at 7th Annual Summer Craft and Vendor Event!

When: Saturday June 20, 2020 at 10 AM – 3:30 PM

Where: World Golf Village Renaissance St. Augustine Resort

Hosted By: Jacksonville Business Connections

What: Every year we host a charity raffle at our 7th Annual Summer Craft & Vendor Event with all proceeds going to a local organization! Vendors donate services & items that will be raffled - you can choose what items you would like to try and win. We usually have over 50 items! This years charity raffle will be helping Fostering Connections St. Johns - tickets can be purchased here!

Please join us and show your support!

Looking For Other Ways To Give?

There are several ways to give support to our local children in foster care and their foster parents. You can give support by:

-Give financial support as an annual donor or for our signature fundraisers

-Donate to a specific campaign (ex: scholarship, duffel bags, general donations)

-Do a collection of care package items, school supplies, or holiday gifts.

-Donate in-kind services for children in foster care or for a programming event (presentations, food, goods etc.).

-Serve as a member of our Board of Directors or Advisory Council.

-Assist with day of volunteering.

-Attend our events and fundraisers.

-Like our Facebook page and share our posts with family and friends.

Our local children in foster care need your support. Working together, we can ensure that every child in foster care has the resources and supports they need to reach their full potential. Not everyone can become a foster parent, but we all can do something to give support.

Will you help us fill the gaps?