Making A Difference in Kids' Lives

Dear St. John Congregation – The Fall Outreach is complete. Backpacks and college kick-start packages were sponsored, and items purchased, scores of socks, under-garments and tennis shoes were procured, all were blessed at last week’s service and all were delivered this week!

The deliveries to Kids Corp (Head Start), Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Child Welfare Academy were all met with enthusiastic smiles and much appreciation for the gifts! While there were stories at each, I wanted to share with you the impact of your generosity learned during my conversation with Amanda Metivier, the Associate Director in the Office of Youth Empowerment & Education and Training Voucher Program at the Child Welfare Academy.

Amanda herself grew up in the foster system in Alaska. When she aged out, she found a way to attend college, believing this was her ticket to a successful life. She thought she could help others like herself. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in social work and later earned her Master’s degree.

In one of her first assignments, she was to pick up a foster student ready to attend UAA. She pulled up to the home and the girl emerged with nothing but a backpack. No bedding. No other linens. No clothes. No ‘stuff’. Can you imagine? Best I can recall, Natalie & I rented two GMC Yukons to move our daughter to school her freshman year! We had tons of stuff! But this girl had nothing. Amanda took the student to her own home where they gathered up Amanda’s extra sheets, pillows and towels in an attempt to get her started. Fast forward to today and imagine the joy on the face of this year’s college-bound foster students when they receive their college kick-start package from St. John! 

By helping this one student, so began Amanda’s commitment to working with foster youth and better assimilating them as they transitioned to college. The State previously attempted to help these college-bound fosters. Amanda petitioned the State to let her organization do this work and she received increased funding to support her efforts. To say that Amanda has a passion for this work is an understatement. Many of the foster students don’t have anyone to accompany them to college orientation. Enter Amanda – she will accompany them, so they don’t journey alone to such an important event. Amanda doesn’t vacation during holidays as some of the foster youth have no home to return to and many don’t have a family with whom to share a holiday meal. I think about our joy when Sarah comes home for the holidays and my heart is heavy knowing there are students with no home where they can return. For Amanda, getting the foster student to college is only the beginning of the relationship. May God bless her and her students.

St. John – we didn’t just provide ‘stuff’ for this Fall Outreach Mission. We marked a path in the wilderness. We created an opportunity. We made change possible. And we supported the efforts of dedicated people like Amanda who are working hard to do the right thing.

Thank you, St. John, for supporting the Child Welfare Academy, Kids Corp and Big Brothers Big Sisters. You made a difference! God bless St. John!!

In Him, Rick & Natalie