I admit it. I've been getting discouraged. I've been following the trail of devastation that budget cuts will leave on foster children. It's not pretty. A nagging little voice in my head has been asking if people really do care. I wasn't sure. But happily, I got a resounding YES when I read about a foster child success story. And it's even out of Cincinnati.
Susan Zaghlool became a ward of the state at age 12 and remained in care until she was an adult. Today, she is a twenty-something-year-old woman who just graduated with her doctorate in pharmacy. She got by with a little help from her friends, who came in the form of various guardian angels. Some were paid child welfare professionals. Many were not. All were decent people willing to give a hand to a young girl who was on her own at age 18. Read HERE about Susan and the average community citizens who helped her.
We can take a lesson from mentor John Kasak and his wife, Audrey, who have mentored Susan and been a part of her life for years, helping her with college applications and budgeting money, among countless other tasks. Or Barbara and Marshall Grimes, who gave Susan a scholarship for school, along with care packages of homemade cookies and Christmas gifts to let her know she is supported and loved.
These interventions are the kinds that mean the difference between success and failure for foster children like Susan who do not have family to fall back on. Can you be a mentor? A care- package-maker? Can you help a foster child shop for a car or file their taxes? Surely there is something you can do to help a kid who is trying to make it. The help you give strengthens kids like Susan and builds communities of people who take care of each other.
And that doesn't cost our crumbling government system anything.
To learn more about Hamilton County's Foster Care Enrichment Council, visit The Foster Child Enrichment Council. To mentor a foster child, visit Cincinnati Youth Collaborative . To be an advocate for a foster child, visit Prokids.