<![CDATA[Fostering Hope LA - Blog]]>Tue, 26 Jan 2021 03:57:32 -0800EditMySite<![CDATA[What Mentorship is all about]]>Fri, 24 Jan 2020 05:35:51 GMThttps://www.fosteringhopela.org/blog/what-mentorship-is-all-about

I met Karina during the “Jobs for Life” classes put on by Fostering Hope LA for 8 weeks during the summer. Karina was interested in the medical field and being a nurse I felt I could be helpful in guiding Karina in that direction. I prayed about this and Debbie asked me to be Karina’s mentor.  This was the beginning of a beautiful journey speaking love and truth into the life of this precious girl. Karina and I have a lot in common. We both love adventure and learning new things. We both like reading, walking, animals (I love dogs and she loves cats), and Starbucks. We don’t like shopping.
I have made it a priority to help Karina finish high school and she just found out that she will finish ahead of schedule if she continues working as hard as she has been doing. We have plans in the New Year to explore career and college opportunities. I look forward to seeing Karina every week during our scheduled Wednesday visits. I feel that Karina blesses me more than I could possibly bless her. She has grown and matured during the last 6 months in many special ways and I cannot wait for our next adventure.

- Laura, mentor from Fostering Hope LA
There is one word that can describe Laura and Karina’s story: hope. In a world that can sometimes seem gloomy and dark, the experience that Laura and Karina had together shows that there is a way to foster hope into the foster care system. 

There are actually two different definitions of hope. One definition is a “feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” That hope was created because of Karina’s determination. Karina could have chosen any future for herself based on the decisions she would make in the last few years in the foster care system. She chose to join a program that would prepare her for the future successfully. 

That hope was also created by Laura, an amazing woman who after prayer and guidance from Debbie made the decision to step up to God’s purpose in both of their lives. We are so thankful for the determination of Karina and Laura.

The other definition of hope in Webster’s Dictionary is simple, it is “trust.”

Mentors play a vital part in Fostering Hope LA because they are God’s hands and feet to foster His hope into the foster care system. Yet, they don’t have an easy role. There is no such thing as a comfortable Christian, and that is shown in the mentorship role. However, their role is so vital that mentors step up to the plate again and again, knowing that a large part of their role will be to build trust. 

Laura was perfect for that role for Karina because of her past, her present, and her future. They were connected because of the history Laura had in the medical field. They became closer because of their present interests, and they both have hope for the future that they can be a part of the larger success story of fueling hope into the foster care system in LA and thus changing lives.

January is National Mentoring Month, and we could not be more thankful for our mentors that take more than just their time to say yes to God’s calling. 

Mentors are trust builders. They are determination engineers. They are success-fuelers. They are Fostering Hope.

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a mentor, click here.

<![CDATA[Graduation Day & A Gospel Hope]]>Thu, 29 Aug 2019 21:41:54 GMThttps://www.fosteringhopela.org/blog/graduation-day-a-gospel-hope​It was the day of our graduation ceremony and one of our graduates called 20 minutes before it began, to say he wouldn't be attending.

As the volunteers and staff tended to last-minute tech issues and deflated balloons it was not what any of us wanted to hear.

"Not coming?"

This student had guests coming to see him graduate! Didn't this mean anything to him? Didn't he realize the importance?

Of course, it wasn't the first time we'd heard someone say they weren't showing up. But not coming to class versus not coming to a special ceremony to celebrate his accomplishment? That felt different. Harder to swallow somehow.

A summer course designed to increase quality and purpose in young lives was coming to an end after 8 challenging weeks. Along the way there had been adversity on many levels and the few students that had, against all odds, made it through the program - were being celebrated.

The trials they'd experienced had ranged from typical teen angst, such as not wanting to come to class if your best friend wasn't going to be there. To the kind of angst, most of us know nothing about: like having to pack up your stuff and move from one group home to another group home 20 miles away. New staff, new "friends", new school to get used to.

Truth be told, the fact that any of these students graduated from a program designed to get them ready for adulthood when they've had to be "adult" for far too many years, is a testament to the goodness of God.

Still, it made no sense to us that our 4 walking miracles should be reduced to 3 on graduation day! For the crew of adults who had rallied around these students, it felt in that moment, like it meant more to us than it did the students!

But in order to see the full scope of any piece of art, don't we have to take a few steps back? Truly seeing the larger picture necessitates a bit of distance for us. And looking back, what was happening that morning was indeed what we'd all signed up for: to invest time, concern, and love into people who might decide to turn it all away.

It was a picture of what the love of Jesus looks like time and time again in all of our lives. Jesus extends his grace and mercy towards our seemingly unmoved hearts every day. Sometimes we turn to Him, understanding the gift that He's offering. And sometimes we snub Him completely, shoving His gift back towards his chest - unimpressed by His sacrifice. And in this case, unmoved by celebration.
To invest, to love, and to rally behind students in the midst of tremendous opposition is what anyone working with this population will experience at one point or another. And our experience, as we live out the gospel, is as much about our own sanctification as it is about the youth we serve.

Like most of life, we have to step outside of ourselves to see the larger story. We must place ourselves, as best we can, in the position of the other.  In this case, the other, might be someone who has never been encouraged to pursue something noble & high for their life. Someone who has never experienced the kind of love that reaches out for them even when they’re acting in ways that are unworthy of that love.

If this were your story, how might you receive a gospel kind of love when it finally came your way?

The answer is: uncomfortably.

This high, wide, and deep love of Jesus? What a scary thing it would be to have it laid at your feet when the loves you’d known before had been distorted or yanked away completely. How difficult it would be to invest in loving or committing to anything.
And because this is the story for many of the young adults we serve, we see things like skipping class even when it feels good to be there. Or the decision not to show up at their own graduation ceremony because it’s easier to sleep in. It’s easier to not care.  Investing is just too hard.

For our students, succumbing to the kind of hope they are shown through the commitment of our instructors, that calls them to higher standards or the love of our Executive Director that pushes through their excuses to get to the real reasons behind their hesitancy, and the diligence of our mentors in getting to know them well...All of it must seem unbelievable. All of it must seem a little untrustworthy.

That student that said he wasn't coming to graduation...He did wind up coming. And we were all delighted that he would change his mind. But larger than that is what God is doing. With every little gesture that says, "We're still here to love you," or "We're not going anywhere," the gospel becomes a little more believable and a little more trustworthy and the love of Jesus becomes a lot more real.

Brandy Wallner 

​Brandy Wallner serves as the Administrative Assistant & Social Media Coordinator at  FHLA.  In her role as Social Media Coordinator she creates graphics and writes content for all of our social platforms and is a Contributing Blogger. She lives with her husband in Southern California and is passionate about sharing the Lord's goodness.

<![CDATA[5 Ways To Help Young Adults EXiting Foster Care]]>Wed, 08 May 2019 17:39:07 GMThttps://www.fosteringhopela.org/blog/5-ways-to-help-young-adults-exiting-foster-careBy Brandy Wallner
Many people have a heart for foster youth and want to help. But the truth is that the demands of a busy life can often be a hindrance to becoming a committed mentor. The good news is, that mentoring isn't the only way to help! Here are 5 ways you can still help our young adults - BIG TIME!

1) Talk about us! The life-blood of any non-profit is word of mouth. For FHLA that is no different. You can help us tremendously just by talking about us and getting the word out via social media! It's as easy as clicking "follow" & "share" on Facebook! Just follow the @fosteringhopela page, then start liking & sharing our posts.  It's super simple!

If you're on Instagram, follow us @fosteringhopelosangeles. 

2) Attend a fundraiser!  FHLA hosts fundraisers throughout the year.  Events like "Paint with Purpose," "A Night of Pure Comedy," and local restaurant fundraisers are not only a great way to give back but a lot of fun!  Buy a ticket to an event or come have dinner at a local restaurant that's partnering with us.  Afterward, you guessed it - help us spread the word by posting photos online!  Also, never hesitate to use our favorite hashtag when posting, #fosteringhopela

3) Volunteer in ways that require less time.  Think about joining our event set up/tear down crew.  Or join our Dinner Delivery Team.  This team delivers meals to our hungry young adults on Monday and Wednesday evenings.  It's a rotating schedule so you would only be serving a couple of times during an 8 week period!  Group dinners after class are something these young people really look forward to.

4) Offer internships or employment to our program graduates!  If you’re a local business owner you can definitely help by giving the gift of opportunity. 

5) Come speak to our young people and help inspire them!  Passionate about your career? There's a strong chance our young adults have never considered your profession as an option for them. Be a speaker at one of our Wednesday evening classes. Hearing about new opportunities brings hope to these young adults! 

Brandy Wallner

​Brandy Wallner serves as the Administrative Assistant & Social Media Coordinator at  FHLA.  In her role as Social Media Coordinator she creates graphics and writes content for all of our social platforms and is a Contributing Blogger. She lives with her husband in Southern California and is passionate about sharing the Lord's goodness.

<![CDATA[a mentor's journey: walking alongside a young adult exiting foster care]]>Thu, 11 Apr 2019 21:52:35 GMThttps://www.fosteringhopela.org/blog/a-mentors-journey-walking-alongside-a-young-adult-exiting-foster-careBy Suzannah Noch
FHLA Board Member, Suzannah Noch shares her experience in mentoring a young adult exiting foster care. 

​He was 17 when my husband and I met him. His tentative smile greeted us as we interacted with him for the first time at an event for potential mentors to meet youth in foster care. We learned that he spent the first two years of his life in foster care, and then returned to foster care at the age of 14 after years of abuse, living in some 14 placements over the next three years. He was nearing the time when he would “age out” of the foster care system -- and was nowhere near prepared for life on his own. He would be at great risk for homelessness and the accompanying dangers.  

We asked God to use us to change that future for him.

Kenny’s* years of mistreatment and feeling insignificant showed up in various ways as we developed a relationship with him, including in his struggle to trust that we really did care about him and didn’t have a hidden agenda. But gradually, he started to see that we were in his corner. He began to reach out for help with how to grocery shop, how to cook simple meals, how to navigate the public transportation system, how to understand girls. I spent time examining price labels with him in the grocery store, and we shared laughter over learning to make things like spaghetti and fried eggs (he had never actually cracked an egg before). 

He called us to ask for advice on various life decisions, and to talk through hurt feelings when a girl broke his heart. We helped him fill out job applications, and practiced mock interviews. When he got a job, at his request we set up a bank account for him in our name to safeguard his savings from his impulsive spending. Kenny joined us for occasional weekends, and for holiday celebrations – he had no other family to be with. 

He began calling us Mom and Dad.

Kenny allowed us to pray with him, and to talk to him about Jesus. He struggled with anger and confusion toward God, but would enter into conversations about these struggles. He attended church with us. His heart softened toward the Lord.
Kenny has now completed training as a medical assistant, and is in classes to be a certified nursing assistant. He still struggles with impulsive spending, he still is uncertain about some spiritual issues, he still deals with insecurity. But he has a hopeful path for the future now. And he knows he is loved. What a gift that is, to know you are loved! 

Kenny has been a gift to us, too, and has enriched our lives in countless ways, including deepening our understanding of God’s unconditional love.

Never doubt the difference mentoring can make. 

*Name has been changed for privacy.

Suzannah Noch, LCSW

Suzannah is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and serves as a Board Member for Fostering Hope LA. She is one of the founders of the Christian Coalition of Foster Care Ministries and has a private counseling practice in southern California, where she specializes in foster care and adoption. Her husband, Andy, is a pastor, and they have three adult children. 

<![CDATA[Lent, Fasting & How THEY relate to  Foster Care]]>Wed, 13 Mar 2019 07:00:00 GMThttps://www.fosteringhopela.org/blog/lent-fasting-how-they-relate-to-foster-careBy Brandy Wallner Picture
This month, any number of Christians will be "giving up" something during the season of Lent.  The season, kicked off by Ash Wednesday is a 46 day period of time when we acknowledge the sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus Christ and give up that which serves to draw us away from truly dwelling in His presence.  Not all Christians observe this more traditional Church Calendar season. However, it does seem an increasing number of Christians even outside of liturgical circles are drawn to it.  As we grow closer to Jesus, we understand our great need for Him and as we understand our great need for Him; it is the wisdom of the Holy Spirit that pushes us towards ridding ourselves of that which does not honor our relationship with Him.  If observed properly, Lent is not only a time of repentance; but should also be a time of renewal. For we are relinquishing something less than, for something far greater.  It is this season that appropriately heralds our Lord's resurrection on Easter! 

​So why are we discussing Lent and fasting here at FHLA? 

​Because Lent should not be our sole motivation for fasting, and fasting is not simply letting go.  It is also taking hold of love and service towards the needy at all times. 

"Is not this the fast that I choose; to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, 'Here I am.' If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. "

Isaiah 58: 6-10

Scripture graciously goes on from here, explaining the abundant ways that the Lord will care for His people as they care for the oppressed. Sisters and brothers, the oppressed are near to us. They are the homeless and the would-be homeless.  Did you know that former foster youth make up about half of the homeless population, nationwide?  Perhaps an even better question is: did you know that you can do something about it? 

With God's help, we all can.

Young adults emancipating from foster care are often on the brink of either greatness or despair.  And as our nation debates the issues of placement & possessions for those struggling with homelessness we should not only allow our hearts to be stirred but indeed scripture calls us to action.  Investing in the life of a young person who lacks the social capital built on the foundations of close family and devoted friends is a proven method for increased success.  It is indeed a step towards "loose[ning] the bonds of wickedness" that have already done enough damage.

An investment looks different for each person; which is why we provide a variety of service areas at FHLA.  

Can you inspire by coming to speak about your profession or an industry that you are a part of? Can you shoot hoops a few times per month? Can you help a young adult fill out a job application? Can you provide a meal once or twice during an 8 week period? We bet you're qualified for one or even all of those things!

Fasting requires not just giving up but, also taking hold of love and service. How will you do that today?  Reach out to us and we're happy to help you decide

Brandy Wallner 

Brandy Wallner serves as the Administrative Assistant & Social Media Coordinator at  FHLA.  In her role as Social Media Coordinator she creates graphics and writes content for all of our social platforms and is a Contributing Blogger. She lives with her husband in Southern California and is passionate about sharing the Lord's goodness. 

donate now and care
​for the oppressed among us
<![CDATA[Celebrating Hop Skip Drive]]>Wed, 27 Feb 2019 07:09:19 GMThttps://www.fosteringhopela.org/blog/celebrating-hop-skip-drive
Here at Fostering Hope LA, we love to celebrate.  We celebrate when a young adult decides to attend our Jobs For Life training.  We celebrate every night they have the transportation to make it to class.  We celebrate with their community of mentors, teachers and advocates as they arrive at their FHLA Graduation Day.  

This is why we celebrate organizations like HopSkipDrive as they support youth and young adults living in foster care in Los Angeles. Now LA-based Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) can partner with HopSkipDrive to organize and track rides for the youth they support. 

A CASA's work goes well beyond the courtroom when they advocate for the well being, safety and services of children in the welfare system.  One of the major unrecognized needs of many living in foster care is the need for safe, reliable transportation.  CASAs can use HopSkipDrive's mobile app to schedule a ride for a youth to get to their class, practice or FHLA Gradutation. HopSkipDrive takes care of the coordinating efforts and creates more opportunities for fun, learning and community support.

Thank you HopSkipDrive for being an organization worth celebrating.  Thank you for supporting and empowering the ones who need it the most.  Thank you for giving HOPE to so many children and young adults living in foster care in Los Angeles. 

To learn more and sign your child or young adult up for rides, visit HopSkipDrive.com.
Interested in becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate? casala.org