SalaamGarage media advocacy for social change Thu, 12 Feb 2015 00:09:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 SalaamGarage “Long Road Home” exhibits at the 220&Change building in Seattle: 7/3~ 9/1 Wed, 18 Jun 2014 16:11:22 +0000 Screen shot 2014-06-18 at 9.04.35 AM

Great news! “SalaamGarage: Long Road Home” will exhibit at the 220&Change building in Seattle: 6/20~ 9/1!!!

Additionally The Mockingbird Societydedicated to building a world‐class foster care system’, will collaborate with SalaamGarage, 220&Change and Impact Hubintersection of technology and social good, on a few special projects and events over the summer. Stay tuned!

We are very excited about our next exhibition and seeing our vision manifest with like-minded organizations and communities: to use this exhibition as a platform for conversation, advocacy and momentum around those who age out of the foster care system. This is a conversation, not just an exhibition.

The 1st opening reception will be in during the Pioneer Square Art Walk ‘First Thursday‘: July 3 between 5-9pm, here: 220&Change 220 2nd Ave S Seattle, WA 98104. 

If you are in Seattle drop on by and say hello!

Thanks again for your support,
Amánda and the SalaamGarage team.

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Seattle AWC Chapter: Multi-Media Exhibition Kickstarter Campaign! Thu, 17 Apr 2014 18:11:02 +0000 Screen shot 2014-04-17 at 10.04.38 AM

reprinted from:

Seattle AWC Chapter: Multi-Media Exhibition Kickstarter Campaign!

Posted: 14 Apr, 2014

Seattle AWC Chapter member Amanda Koster is a force behind a major effort to raise awareness of what foster “kids” face when they age out of the foster care system. Amanda has launched a Kickstarter campaign for “The Long Road Home, Aging Out of Foster Care,” a multi-media exhibition at The Art Institute (May 1 – June 18).

Amanda is the founder of SalaamGarage, which works with artists, media producers and entrepreneurs to tell stories of people’s lives that aren’t always heard. Amanda’s Kickstarter campaign page states, “Our goal is for individuals who have aged out to experience these stories and see that they are not alone, and to inspire communities to engage in social documentary projects in their own back yard.”

As Founder and Executive Producer Amanda has recruited, built and led a team of about 25 volunteer media makers and producers over two years to date. The project involved building relationships and trust with four local Foster Care agencies in Seattle, which provided access to adults who have aged out.

About SalaamGarage, Amanda says, “We are media makers who build relationships with nonprofits and the courageous individuals they serve. From there we create and share independent media projects that raise awareness and initiate positive change engaging social communities on- and off-line. Our projects have been presented at TEDx, Ignite, Microsoft, South by Southwest, Web 2.0, SPE, The Huffington Post, Seattle PI and many other media outlets.”

Here is the link to the Kickstarter:

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WA paves the way: EHB 2335 (Extended Foster Care)!! Wed, 09 Apr 2014 18:00:55 +0000 (From “Real Change News,” 4/2/14:

By providing housing until age 21, state’s foster care program to ease transition to adulthood

by: Aaron Burkhalter , Staff Reporter

About 500 people “age out” of the state’s foster care system every year. Within their first year as adults, about a third of these people experience homelessness, according to the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS).

A new law passed by the Washington Legislature is designed to prevent this. Under the law, foster kids who are in school or training programs can continue to receive housing support, case work and legal support until they’re 21 through the state’s extended foster care system.

The state started extended foster care in 2006, and over the years has extended it to young adults in the foster care program who are in college or employment training programs. This year, the legislature expanded the program to include people who are working at least 80 hours a month.

Extended foster care has been growing since 2006, said Jim Theofelis, executive director for The Mockingbird Society, a nonprofit that advocates for foster kids. The program started because hundreds of kids each year were leaving foster homes only to become homeless.

In some cases, Theofelis said, students avoided finishing high school so they could stay in foster care as long as possible. Young adults age out of the program once they are 18 and have a high school diploma.

Prior to founding The Mockingbird Society, Theofelis was a mental health counselor who worked with foster kids. He would at times advise his clients to not finish high school so they could continue to get state foster support.

“We essentially trained these kids to underachieve,” he said.

Many foster children have had to leave their home on their 18th birthday. Foster parents sometimes kicked foster children out after they stopped getting financial support from the state. If foster parents also had underage foster children in the home, other adults could not legally stay there.

The legislature allocated $3 million to pay for the program through 2019. The money could go to pay foster parents to continue to provide housing or to help former foster kids rent apartments. In order to be eligible, the young people must be enrolled in school or working 80 hours a month.

Students in the program can also get case management and legal support.

Click HERE to read the EHB 2335 Bill (PDF). Hooray WA!


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16 days left + 66% to goal Mon, 07 Apr 2014 22:07:03 +0000 Thank you so much for supporting “The Long Road Home” art exhibit. $1859 left to raise. Let’s press on and share with our networks, again.

Here’s the link again:

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UPDATE: 23 DAYS TO GO Wed, 02 Apr 2014 02:01:45 +0000 WOW! We continue to be blessed by more gifts to help us pull off this important exhibition! We currently have 40 backers who have pledged a total of $3306 out of the $5500 we hope to raise. That means we are already 60% of the way toward our goal!


Even though we are making good pace we still need help. If you have not pledged yet, please consider giving a gift to help us reach 100% of our goal. You can also help by sharing our content on social media or via email with anyone you can think of that might be interested in supporting this endeavor. Thanks everyone for helping us to share these important stories, raising awareness and making a difference in the foster community in Seattle and beyond.

Follow and share our posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! Thanks again!


Twitter: @salaamgarage

Instagram: @salaamgarage

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WOW! YOU ROCK! Thank you for a swift 50%! Thu, 27 Mar 2014 20:18:53 +0000

Hi Friends!

THANK YOU SO MUCH! We launched a Kickstarter for our exhibition “A Long Road Home: Aging out of Foster Care,” May-June 2014 in Seattle.

And….wow, after 2 days we are ~50% there! So, that means we need the other 50%. Would you participate and help us out?

I just got back from the DENT 2014 conference where this amazing community and my geek-let’s-change-the-world family really supported this project from the start. THANK YOU DENT-ERS! For backers who have supported “A Long Road Home” who know us via other avenues thank you so much! I wish you all could see the tear in my eye, feel the thump in my heart and give you all a bear hug.

We are so very grateful and this just motivates us to work harder. On behalf of the SalaamGarage team (media makers, participants, sponsors): thank you. 

Love, Amanda and SalaamGarage

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Summer Homes Wed, 06 Nov 2013 15:00:28 +0000 Written & Edited by: Kacie Grice & Christian Downes
Photography by: Della Chen —

For Summer Prescott, the definition of home is not one most of us would recognize. Without the familial compassion many of us take for granted, Summer attempted to find home–initially, within the framework of abandoned houses, with relatives, within the arms and hearts of those who were unable to truly care for her. She sought safety and security from those she loved, and in its absence, chose solitude–the origin of the hardest won independence. Over the course of years, Summer simply learned to survive the searching. She uses what she discovered to shelter others, and to teach them how a home can be made with a love that is just and generous.


Summer was born a healthy girl in every respect to parents who loved her. When Summer’s father died before her third birthday, she would have to compete for her mother’s attention against a changing cast of boyfriends, drug and alcohol abuse. Despite the circumstances, Summer’s affection for her mother and little sister remained strong.

Through the years, Summer adapted to a constantly changing environment. Her mother’s boyfriends were often unstable and dangerous (one of these men was later suspected for the Green River Killings). Summer explained that one broke into the house to kill her mother’s new boyfriend. She remembers him sitting in the kitchen glaring at her with a lighter in his hand, setting fire to her favorite pencil.

“I don’t know why that affected me so much–it was just a pencil–but I was crushed”. She described the impression as strange, whereas other past, violent acts seemed to her like part of her story. She saved the pain of these incidents for moments when she felt safe to feel them.

Often, Summer spent long days alone at the nearby lake. She stayed in abandoned houses. She would regularly wake up there and go to school. The abandoned houses provided her refuge–for a time–but Summer had difficulty adjusting to the growth of the family, and became increasingly belligerent when her mother remarried.

At thirteen, Summer was sent to Mountain Park Baptist Academy, a place she describes as fire and brimstone. Her parents hoped she would find guidance, but for the next 19 months, Summer found cruelty, combative leaders, and children made to behave like soldiers. She found a different kind of love from her schoolmates–those who shared a similar suffering.

Summer was forced to memorize scriptures by writing them hundreds–even thousands–of times. She recalls writing First Corinthians 13:1: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging symbol.”

With a tender gratitude and genuine esteem, Summer understood their actions as contrary to the teaching, but says she is grateful. “They were like clanging symbols, but God showed me that.”

A close friend of Summer’s was killed–an incident motivating her to return to her family. This turned out to be temporary. “I was taken into foster care, when my Step Dad and I had a fight. We were both charged for assault, but the police took me to Juvenile Hall–my parents said they did not want me with them. I was at the detention center for only a few hours while I waited for a case worker to come take me to my first of many temporary houses.”

She had a new caseworker each time she was transitioned, and was abruptly moved around so often that she never had the chance to really know any of her foster parents. Summer remarked. “I was rarely in a home for longer than 3 days. They cared about the money (they got for foster care) not us, and didn’t trouble themselves to make any bluff about it either.”

But there was only one home where she felt cared-for. It was a home where rules were clearly established to protect the girls. Yet, even the time she spent at this home was short-lived.

One morning she was given a bus ticket and told not to return until 7 o’clock. Summer was devastated. She had never ridden the bus alone. She had no idea what she was doing–or where to go. Summer was certain that no one understood her or had the power, or desire to care for her. “I didn’t age out of foster care, exactly, I ran away.” She said, emphatically.

summer 04

At 15, she left foster care and lived with her  Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) sponsor. “I was not addicted to drugs or alcohol but I liked being a part of a family, and I found that in AA.” There she met a 32-year-old man. “He let me live with him in exchange for cleaning.”

The arrangement eventually became grim. “He tickled me and then kissed me. I tried to stop him and then gave in, thinking if I don’t do this I won’t have anywhere to go.”

He told her not to tell anyone because of their age difference. “This was the most desperate time of my life.” Summer said. Later, when she discovered she was pregnant with his child, she moved back in with her mother.

While Summer was still pregnant she met another man at AA, and fell in love. he was supportive during her pregnancy, and the couple married–but the happily wasn’t ever-after. A rift grew between them, ending the relationship. Though Summer felt guilty and flooded with shame, she wanted a divorce and a place of her own.

Despite being a single parent with a divorce in progress, she wanted to be a responsible provider, inspired by the simple dream of an apartment, a car, and a safe place for her children.

She began dancing at a popular strip club, after her friend boasted of making a thousand dollars a night. Dancing was not quite the way Summer understood it–you were supposed to touch. “You are a self-contractor, with lots of fees. It costs money to rent the stage, half of the cost of each dance goes to the club. If you don’t make enough you acquire a debt to the club–until it is worked off.” She explained.

“It is not much more than an average minimum wage job. Prostitution was encouraged.” Summer said the bouncer would shine a flashlight to alert dancers of a potential bust. One of her coworkers said point-blank, “Look around you–If you can’t strap on a condom and finish the job, you aren’t going to get by…so get out”. Get out she did. Summer met a drug dealer who helped her get out of dancing and find work as a server.

Summer then fell for one of her coworkers. He moved in with her and the relationship mutated gradually into violence. At one point, Summer had been beaten so badly, she thought she would die. Her head was so swollen that her face was unrecognizable. Though she had no plan, she found the courage to press charges, and see the man sent to jail.

Life took on a rhythm of child support, and longing. She sometimes got to visit her daughter for two days at a time–but no more than twice a month. The darkness stretched beyond her sight. Summer dragged herself to a church full of elderly people, where she could barely hear the sermons. “He was protecting me and was with me.” She added.

Summer befriended a man from AA who owned a tattoo studio and held bible studies. She recognized enormous changes in his life, and decided to check out the church he attended. Summer sat through all three sermons that day, listening over and over to the sermon about God being a father who never leaves us. The pastor apologized for fathers who had left. He spoke of avoiding the examples of people in church or people in the bible, following the example of Jesus in the bible.

Summer would come in every week and look around and see young people like herself. She didn’t feel alienated, judged or excluded. Summer reflected, “God protected me from so much…it’s amazing” She said, listing the things that she is surprised never happened to her. She never got into prostitution, was never addicted to drugs. When she was beaten, she hadn’t been killed, and somehow had the clarity to leave.

Soon after, Summer met a really cute guy. The two talked about the bands they liked. He took her iPod and downloaded every song by Tool and A Perfect Circle for her.

Summer, blushing and giggling, exclaimed “I fell in love with him on the spot”.

summer 08

He began to go to church with Summer, but she didn’t know what he would think. She was shocked when he became a Christian.

A little while later he came home from a church retreat and said, “I am not supposed to be sleeping with you. I want you to be my wife.” Summer knew he adored her son and daughter as his own, and they began to make wedding plans. Just before the wedding, Summer discovered she was pregnant. They were overwhelmed with excitement.

Some changes came with ease, while others were jolting. Almost immediately after the wedding her husband lost his job. “But we were surrounded by community. It was so humbling. The church has helped in crazy ways. People showed up from my community group with everything we needed for the baby. We got so much baby lotion that we still had some four years later! They paid our rent and made it easy to take the help–and ask for it–because they just said its God’s money. I learned how to see this for myself. What I have isn’t mine. It is His for me to give. My car isn’t mine–it’s His, so I can give a ride–things like that. It changed our life–having people serve us.”

In addition to her roles as a wife and mother, she is a volunteer with REST: Real Escape from the Sex Trade. She especially loves to serve women that have suffered similar traumas as she.

Summer also has a deep affection for the former residents of Mountain Park Baptist Academy (the institution was shut down after two resident boys murdered a classmate).

She has reconnected with, and is encouraged by them, helping one another work through their suffering, and needs.

These days, Summer is relentlessly hopeful and feels at home in her story. “When I was a child I wanted most to be loved; now I want people to know they are loved–no matter what situation they are in.”

summer 06



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PhotoServe Chats with SalaamGarage Founder Amanda Koster Tue, 15 Oct 2013 18:08:32 +0000

PhotoServe Chats with SalaamGarage Founder Amanda Koster

Amanda Koster speaking at a Seattle TED lecture.  talks with Amanda Koster, internationally acclaimed photographer and founder of the digital-storytelling, citizen-journalism organization for social change, SalaamGarage.

PS:  How did you start as a photographer?

AK: In 1991 I registered for Photo 1 at Creative Arts Workshop in New Haven, Connecticut because for the life of me I couldn’t understand how photography worked. I was mystified by photography. My grandfather, a Romanian immigrant, was a factory worker for Kodak. He was encouraged to understand the products and to play with all the latest toys taking pictures and making home movies. We sat through hours of very boring slideshows and home movies. Meanwhile he was glowing.  Honestly, I was more fascinated with how it worked vs. the actual content.

The impetus for that Photo1 class in 1991 was at Southern Connecticut State University while majoring in cultural anthropology (after switching from psychology). I thought being a photographer would give me a leg up on my fellow classmates, help get me get grants and generally serve as a skill would support my career as an anthropologist. Once I understood how photography worked I was completely hooked.

On a deeper, more personal level, I now see that photography helped me understand and express my own story, while empathizing with so many other people.  I grew up in a heartbreaking situation where I had no voice and being invisible was how I survived. My church caught on and removed me from my home at 13 and placed me with my un-official foster mom, Mrs. Green. I lived with her in high school and worked nearly full time to pay for University. If hadn’t told my story to my pastor Mitch Zeman, and if he hadn’t listened, my life would look drastically different today.

PS:  Tell us about SalaamGarage and how you came to start  the world-renowned digital-storytelling organization.

AK:   A few things.

First:  The rise of Social Media in 2006. It blew my mind. It seemed to me the goal was to build an audience and then say something. I felt I had something to say, and that it would stand out amongst all the useless noise on social media back then. It would become my new exhibition.

Second: Realizing I don’t have to be the one saying it. For about 15 years, I was working alone on social documentary projects alongside my commercial career. After years of exhibitions and schlepping my photos around I realized something. I un-hung yet another photo from yet another wall, and I wondered if I really cared about the physical photo at all, or was it the story? It was the story. Also, I may not have to be the one telling it, and it may not mean my photo on this wall. What if teams of people were doing this work together and we plugged it into Social Media? What would that look like?

Third: Countless requests for “coffee talk.” “I’d like to meet for coffee and pick your brain…  I want to do this kind of work too…. can I carry your bags….?”  These seemingly harmless requests would flood my inbox 20 times a week and stress me out. It is impossible to meet all of these people and yet here they, want to do this kind of work. Why not create a platform for them to do just that?

So in 2006 I formed SalaamGarage and built the first itinerary and ground team in India. In 2007 I led the pilot trip to India to work with Vatsalya (Note: Vatsalya dedicates itself to empower vulnerable children to be responsible citizens in the mainstream society by instilling the value of love, equality and justice, and to ensure a better future for them  to become contributing members of society). I learned a lot, made a lot of mistakes and finally understood what SalaamGarage really was, literally mid-trip. I am forever grateful for that team and their patience with me as I worked out the kinks real-time. In 2008 long-time friend, colleague and powerhouse Maggie Soladay and I teamed up and more teams blossomed internationally. In 2009 things exploded and SalaamGarage has been growing ever since.

PS: How do you find your teams?

AK: They come to us. They are folks who have a similar vision for storytelling as we do. They are people who are sick of using their creativity to sell stuff for a living and want to reignite and re-engage their original passion for storytelling. They are people who are interested in media and want to work alongside seasoned professionals.  They are people who just give a damn and just want to be a part of something greater than themselves. SalaamGarage is built of these kinds of folks. We leave our ego at the door.

PS: How do you separate your group from other organizations doing similar reporting or do you?  What is unique about SalaamGarage?

AK: I don’t really think that way. Ultimately I wish SalaamGarage would dissolve and we wouldn’t need to tell such heartbreaking stories or raise awareness about our own neighbors.  The more teams working together on independent storytelling media projects in their communities or around the world the better!

PeaceTrees Vietnam bomb removal organization in the DMZ./© Amanda Koster

PS: How do you get the word out about your special stories? Special events, radio?, TV spots, blogs, etc.?

AK: Mostly via Social Media and old-fashioned word of (electronic) mouth. That leads to traditional media blowouts, exhibitions, press, radio, forums, etc.

PS: What has been the most exciting aspect of starting SalaamGarage?

AK: Seeing teams with amazing hearts and creativity come together to work hard, very hard, on projects they care deeply about.  Seeing people eyes light up when they hear we want to know them and share their story.

PS: Who are some of your personal heroes, whether they are photographers or not?

AK: Sebastio Selgado and Robert Frank. Also Käthe Kollwitz , Peter Gabriel, Bono and Jesus.

PS: What recommendations do you have for photographers today who may want to do this type of photography or any type of photography?

AK: Don’t believe the lie that anyone or anything is your magical key to success. “Cool factor- VIP pass and we’ll give you photo credit” will never ever pay your bills. There is no easy way. You have to be still and listen deeply to your own inspiration, trust it and follow it. And you need to save your money. You have to get up every day and in the face of failure keep working at it. Choose your projects and your teams wisely.

PS: What’s up next for Amanda Koster and SalaamGarage?

AK: SalaamGarage Seattle is producing and publishing its stories on the site this summer. We will launch a Kickstarter in the fall to raise money for our traveling exhibition “Long Road Home”. I’d like the New York City and Seattle Aging Out of Foster Care work to travel nationally to raise awareness of this nearly unknown situation: America’s orphans.

“Long Road Home” with Brendan Zincavage who is Aging out of Foster Care in Seattle./© Henk Dawson

We took a break from SalaamGarage Global to launch Local. However there has been a swelling interest in international trips, so sign up here and we’ll build and lead some more.

SalaamGarage is also looking for sponsorships and powerhouse partners. Places to publish these stories like MSN, NPR, etc. Places to exhibit the work. Outright cash or grants to produce exhibitions, books, build the organization and offer scholarships, committed leaders to build and lead trips and in-kind items such as printing our exhibitions, publishing and distributing our books, giveaways. SalaamGarage is content rich and is looking build collaborations with organizations who are hungry for raw, community focused, social documentary content. If you have an idea, contact me:

For me? Professionally I have been digging combing media, content development, project managing, tech and software. I’ve been doing that for the last two years in addition to photo assignments and am totally fascinated. It’s the geek in me. Personally I am ready to settle down and will close on a house July 31st.  Interesting timing for the launch of  “A Long Road Home.” The SalaamGarage team in Seattle is going to tell my story starting with my very first home, ever. If you knew my whole story you’d see how fitting this is. Very fitting.

PS: If you were not a photographer, what would you be doing?

AK: Great question. Maybe I’d run an orphanage, teach practical life skills to girls from tough situations, more public speaking and write my autobiography. I think it would help people. And maybe include a few photos!

We thank Amanda Koster for taking time to chat with this month and we will be providing updates on the “Aging Out of Foster Care” stories.  You can view her TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) talks and other lectures here.

For more updates on the local Seattle and New York City stories,  visit SalaamGarage. You can also see the press on  their Aging Out of Foster care for New York City chapter work at The New York Book Review,  ABC Newsand an earlier report on  And more on the PeaceTrees Vietnam bomb-removal project can be viewed here.


– See more at:

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Samuel Martin: An Advocate Come of Age Wed, 18 Sep 2013 14:00:09 +0000 Written by: Victoria Garcia
Edited by: Christian Downes
Interviews by: Henk Dawson & John Harrison

Samuel Martin is a young man with a gracious manner, a warm smile, and a sly sense of humor. A recent graduate of the University of Washington, Samuel grew up in the Seattle foster care system.

During his childhood, love, caring, and adult guidance were scarce. Now he is using the lessons he learned during those difficult times to help other young people. At 23, he works as a mentor for youth in foster care. “For me, it’s all about giving back,” says Samuel. “So many people gave to me, so now it’s my turn.”

Samuel spent his earliest years with his paternal grandmother. Their home was not a happy one. “When my grandma was sober, she was a wonderful person,” says Samuel. “Wonderfully sweet, very genuine, very caring.” But she changed when she drank. “It turned her into almost a monster,” Samuel says. “She would come in just belligerently drunk and angry and tell me things like ‘You’re gonna end up like your father. You’re fat and you’re nothing. You’re not going to amount to anything.’” Violence often followed: “I was hit with vacuum cleaners, ash trays, wood sticks,” says Samuel in matter-of-fact tones. He remembers blaming himself for his situation: “It really forced me to ask ‘Why?’ and ‘How come you don’t love me?’ ”


When Samuel was eleven years old, his time with his grandmother came to a sudden end. “There were no other kids around that I could play with, so I sometimes sat in on this sewing class that was run by all these old ladies.” Samuel laughs. “I went to the little sewing class in the morning and I came back home, made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and I left again. But during the time I did that, my grandma told me, ‘Don’t come back.’ ”

At first, Samuel didn’t understand: “Maybe two seconds later, I tried to get back into the house, because I realized I was thirsty. I wanted some milk. And she didn’t answer the door.” Samuel pounded on the door, but it remained locked. Finally, after an hour, the terrified boy called the police. Officers came to the scene, but Samuel’s grandmother wouldn’t let them in. “At that point, they took me to Child Protective Services (CPS) and tried to find me a place to live.”

CPS then arranged for Samuel to move in with an aunt. This was “kinship care,” a foster placement with a relative. It’s typically favored over a placement with a strangers, but often it’s still far from ideal: “[My aunt] was a very, very hard-working woman,” says Samuel. “She was in nursing school, and also had five kids of her own. So she didn’t have a lot of time.” But as a survivor of serious abuse, a caring adult’s time was something he sorely needed.  Samuel explains how wrenching it can be when kinship care goes wrong: “When it feels like your family doesn’t want you, it’s not like you can just change homes, or say that you don’t want to be there anymore.”

Samuel quickly realized that he would now have to take care of himself. He learned to cook, to clean up after himself, and to do his own laundry. His aunt’s biological children, he says, helped him as much as they could, but being kids themselves, there was only so much they could do. “For the most part, [they] were doing the same thing as me, trying to survive, trying to make sure that they handled their own business, because that was the situation we were all put in.”

Samuel was now safe from his grandmother’s blows, but her words continued to haunt him, and to hurt. He blamed himself for her rejection, and he struggled, both emotionally and academically.

When he was in middle school, Samuel’s aunt decided to move the family to California. Samuel was not invited to come along. “[My aunt] didn’t even tell me,” Samuel says. “She had her son tell me. I’m excited because I’m thinking I’m going to California, and he says, ‘Hey, yeah, you’re not coming.’ ”


This was the second time that Samuel had been pushed away by the family member charged with his care. “The world kind of crushed around me,” says Samuel. “I know I was a handful and that I did bad in school, but it would have been nice to feel like somebody cared.”

Samuel’s social worker raced to find another foster home–difficult because Samuel was now an adolescent.

CPS found an aunt on his mother’s side who agreed to care for Samuel. This new caretaker was from a branch of the family Samuel knew nothing about. Now, he learned, not only did he have an aunt he’d never met, but he had siblings: two brothers, and a sister. Samuel’s adjustment to the new placement was rocky. He had deep emotional scars and learned to expect the worst from relatives. “My family says that I didn’t talk at all,” says Samuel. “They said that for the first few months there, I just didn’t speak.”

Samuel soon came to understand that his new caregiver was not a particularly tender or emotional person. But though his new home did not provide him with the warmth he craved, it did provide desperately needed stability, and an adult willing to push him in the right direction. “At the time, I didn’t understand it. I was a teenage boy and teenage boys don’t ever understand why people make them do stuff. But she got me really involved in my community, and because of that, I started to flourish.”

The programs Samuel worked with during this time would have a deep impact on his life. Through the Mockingbird Society, fifteen-year-old Samuel discovered his love of public service. “Every year they go down to Olympia and do a Youth Advocacy Day, where youth from across the state pitch in and create ideas for legislative change in foster care. … Shortly after joining the organization, I was able to testify in down Olympia in front of the senate. And that was the key moment when I knew I loved politics.”

A few years later, Samuel was accepted for admission to the University of Washington. No longer a floundering “problem child,” Samuel had learned how to focus, how to set goals and achieve them. But even so, the transition was rough. Though he was still a teenager, he was now utterly independent, with no familial safety net. “You think you don’t have support until you’re on your own, and then you realize that a constant roof over your head is better than not having one.”

Samuel soon discovered that there were dozens of key life skills that he had never had a chance to learn. “The biggest issue for me, aging out of the foster care system, is that I wasn’t prepared,” Samuel says. “I had to fall flat on my face numerous times for about the first three or four years. We need people,” he says. “We need other humans to gauge opinions, to figure out suggestions…We can’t do it alone.”

Indeed, after all those years of feeling unwanted, Samuel has now succeeded in creating the supportive, affectionate environment he always longed for. He has good friends, and a number of mentors. He visits his aunt regularly. “I have the opportunity to surround myself with people who care about me and love me; love’s in no short supply now.”


But in building this, Samuel has had to confront some deep-seated fears. “Growing up, it felt like nobody was there for me, so to be able to open myself was really hard…. You don’t want to have to rely on somebody else, because most times they’re going to fail you. And I think that you have to find a good balance with that, because everybody, in some form or fashion, is going to fall short. We’re human, it’s human nature. But for the longest time, I adopted this mentality of ‘the people I surround myself with have to be perfect, and the first time that they do something wrong to me, I have to cut them off.’ ”

This outward focus seems to serve Samuel well. Though his transition from foster care to university life was turbulent in many ways, Samuel has made the move from college to professional life with enviable grace. He is currently employed at Treehouse, a Seattle organization that provides support for kids in the foster care system. There, he works as an educational programs assistant, and he uses the hard-won lessons of his youth to help guide kids who are facing the same challenges he did. It’s work he loves.

But Samuel’s ambitions reach further. He is as certain now as he was at age fifteen that his future lies in politics, and he is working hard to make that dream a reality. For years, has been making regular lobbying trips to Olympia to speak with legislators about foster care, gang violence, and the need to reduce incarceration levels. “I know from my upbringing that it’s really a blessing for me to even be here today,” he says. “It makes me sick sometimes to see how people have to struggle to barely make it day-to-day, so the thing that really excites me is to advocate change–to be able to stand up for the person who doesn’t get a chance to say something.” Actively networking in preparation for his first campaign, he is considering a city council run in 2014.

When the time comes, he’ll be an easy candidate to root for. In the stories of Samuel’s early life, we see not just trouble and strife, not just problems and solutions, but a powerful kind of personal alchemy: Samuel has learned to turn pain into empathy, to turn doubt into discipline, and to struggle into true strength. It’s an ability that all leaders need, but that few possess.

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Pages and Pages: Jessica’s Unfolding Story Thu, 15 Aug 2013 14:00:50 +0000 Story by: Jessica Garcia and Natalie St.Martin
Edited by: Natalie St.Martin, Susan Anstine, and Stephanie Hansen
Photos by: Natalie St.Martin and Amanda Koster

Hello, I am Jessica, 23 years old. I’m the oldest of 9 kids. I entered foster care at age 5, with 2 brothers 2 and 3 years younger than me. I can’t quite remember how I was take, only that we were left alone for so many days. Since 1997 I was in 57 different foster homes. I was physically abused in a few foster homes. At some places I stayed, they treated us ugly and verbally abused me. I felt almost like Cinderella minus the prince part and 10 times worse.

Jessica Garcia was the very first person to sign up to tell her story with us. She responded to our request eagerly, pouring out part of her life story even on the intake forms. I corresponded with her for a few months via email before we finally managed to meet at Street Bean, a coffee shop that is run by New Horizons. She had carefully hand-written her story on ruled paper; front and back of five full pages.  She read it aloud to me. It is a heartbreaking story. Jessica has scars to show for it – as well as a smile that is strikingly beautiful.

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At age 9 years I returned with my mother. She had a crack addiction and would leave me with 4 kids to watch. She beat me and gave me alcohol to shut me up. There were times when there was no food, lights or clean clothes. There were rats in the home, and we lived in unclean conditions. We were taken away. I was separated from my siblings at 10 years old and lived in Spokane. I was abused in one foster home, then went to live with a family that cared deeply for me and I felt alive and loved. I loved this woman so much. She had a great heart and believed in God. I was moved back to Yakima due to my closeness with her. They wanted to adopt me. But due to my mom being part native, I was in Indian CPS and my mom didn’t let me go.

I was miserable from then on and turned to drugs and alcohol for comfort. I started staying with strangers. I moved to Seattle at age 16 years and went to treatment, but ran. I then was placed with my mother again, only to have the worst time. I was getting high of weed and she was smoking crack. I was removed from her home because we fought a lot. I went to group home after group home, and ran away. I was told by my probation officer to get back into a foster home. I was so lost, sad, tired, hurt and traumatized that death ran through my mind. I met a case manager who worked with homeless youth and she told me to tell her what I felt and my hurts. I asked her, “why do you care?” and she said, “Because someone needs to care for those of you who are being left unheard.”

This case worker got her into a shelter with YouthCare and she was able to be stable for a while, even earn her GED and get a job with Mockingbird Times. But as her 18th birthday approached and she faced aging out, she sunk into a depression. She was moved into an adult shelter after her birthday, but there she started drinking again and soon got kicked out. Living with her mom after that was as awful as it had ever been, so she left and was homeless for a while.

I would drink at parties only so that I had a place to crash. I slept with men to stay places but it wasn’t a lot of them, 3 or so. I didn’t like doing this so I walked away from them, but remained with one of them. I was so tired of living and tired of sleeping outside or at parks, buses and in alleys.

This was a low point for her. She recalls going to the University Presbyterian Church drop-in center and praying with a woman there. A series of events that followed convinced her that God heard her prayers.

I was picked up by the case manager from the shelter. They took me to their office and they fed me, gave me clothes and some gift cards…I didn’t believe God was real till I remembered my prayer with Gretchen at the U-Pres, and I said, “God is real.” I had gotten so much in just one day. It was hard to believe. The program paid for the cost of rent and utilities. All I had to do was attend school or find a job.

I attended college. And then I found out I was pregnant. I was scared but happy. The guy I was with I had known since I was 18 years old. It was one of the men I slept with to have a place to stay. I thought he was a good guy only to be told by his other baby’s mom that he was playing with us both and that he lied to me…he was deported and left me with nothing for our child… Later I had a C-section and had a lot of help from Gretchen and Mars Hill Church. I never felt so much love and care in my life. I was brought food and clothes for my daughter and got a crib though my housing.

She lived with a family from the church until she was able to find housing on her own, but then things went really wrong. The baby’s dad came back and she believed him when he said he wanted them to build a family together. Meanwhile, she was still struggling with alcohol. One day she told a relative that she didn’t want to live anymore, and he called her friends saying she was suicidal. They called the police and her daughter was taken into Child Protective Services. Her relationship with her baby’s dad continued to spiral downward as he became more and more violent. She tells the story of when he stabbed her in the back with a knife, and she would have died except for neighbors calling for help. He was sent to jail, and she did her best to move on. But Jessica says it has been very difficult to figure out what to do with her life.


All of this stuff is due to my growing up in foster care. And not knowing how to have a normal life or even know how to start a life of my own. I wasn’t told in foster care about adulthood. I continue to face trials daily or feel sorrow from the pains of my past and for my daughter. I let her go with her dad’s mom who doesn’t let me see her. I’m trying not to cause her more pain than I already have. It hurts me more to be without her. I’ve been doing trauma counseling and reaching out to people to heal and grow. The system has a lot to do with my trials and struggles in this life. I know its gonna be hard to grow because I don’t like change and don’t trust it…I won’t give up or stop trying or making better decisions for my self. I realize in order to have I have to let people go and try new things.

The training she did receive was on how to cope with constant transition and short-term or volatile relationships. She is friendly and easy to talk to, but hard to keep up with and hard to track down. As of July, I have known Jessica for a whole year. In this time I have gotten a feel for what life is like for her now. So much has happened in a year it would be hard to tell, but even though there have been quite a few different living arrangements, a new guy, and now another baby on the way, overall I have seen her get a little bit steadier. Only once did we manage to meet when we scheduled to meet, however.

Although we couldn’t schedule a photo shoot, she did spend Thanksgiving with me and some friends last year, and I have one photo of her from that day. She is a delightful and surprising person, who deeply appreciates any act of kindness.  She is one of the most thankful people I have ever met. And yet I see how hard it is for her to really receive love and believe she is valuable.

She recently came by for dinner. We talked about how she is starting to see her part in her relationships and conflicts, and we celebrated that she has been sober for over 100 days. She continues to describe how she feels God is helping her.

God reminds me he is here for me that he cares for me and that I am a worth everything good in this world. It doesn’t come easy to trust in God when he’s invisible, but love, respect, peace, joy and random acts of kindness have been God’s way of showing me not to give up. I’m grateful to have faith and belief; without it I wouldn’t be where I am. I do get discouraged and fall down but God continues to fight my battles no matter what. Support and understanding is what I need in order to grow. It’s hard not to know my path in life. I get scared of another program ending, I fear a lot due to my experiences and my fear is what keeps me from growing. I know it will get better, and It won’t always be great at times but God says I will not be alone.

Thanksgiving with Jessica
Jessica, seated second from the left.

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Brendan: Changing the Patterns Thu, 18 Jul 2013 14:00:44 +0000 Photos by Henk Dawson
Story by Oliver Sharp


“They moved me from one foster house to another every few weeks.  When I was eight, I was placed in what was supposed to be my permanent family.  It was right after that when my mother died of a heroin overdose.”

Brendan is an outgoing college senior who is finishing his sociology degree at the University of Washington.  “My parents were recovering alcoholics.  They were doing pretty well when I was born, but then things got tough.  They divorced when I was three years old.”  Both of them began drinking again, and his mother went back on heroin.

Before he became a ward of the state, Brendan watched his mother lose the struggle with addiction. Once, she was trying to make the bed, and fell backwards and passed out.  Another time she collapsed in the bathroom; a drawer was open and blocked the door, so they had to break it down to get her out.

He and his mother shared some good times together; she bought him his first pair of roller blades and sometimes they made pottery together.  But most of the time, he was on his own.  Although both parents were musicians, Brendan can’t play a note. “Nobody was ever there to teach me.”

As his mother succumbed to her heroin addiction, Brendan was moved from one foster family to another.  He was finally placed with one for several years.  At first, he benefited from an environment that had some of the structure he craved.  But as time went on, the situation deteriorated.  “They were very religious, very rigid.  We had a lot of conflict.  My grades weren’t good, they didn’t like my friends.”  Brendan is gay, and the family was extremely homophobic.  He concealed the truth from them, but they probably had their suspicions.  He had grown used to hiding inner turmoil from the world by then.  “I feel like it’s a performance sometimes, in my own head.”


The relationship grew increasingly tense.  Then, he was able to reconnect with relatives across the country, and they offered to take him in.  He lived with them for a few years during high school, and that was the happiest period of his life.  “They were supportive, and my relationship with them was really positive.  They gave me a lot of freedom, but they were there if I needed them.”  Even though he ended up attending four different high schools in four years, “my grades were good and I was doing something right.”

He was excited about going to college, but there was a rude shock in store.  “I felt like I wasn’t on the same level with everyone else.  In English, I couldn’t even speak in class because everyone was so much farther ahead.”  It was also “my first taste of complete freedom.”  During the first two years he went into an emotional tailspin and struggled with his classes.  “I wish I could have made better decisions and that school had been different.”  But he made it through that difficult time, and now he’s doing well in his classes and will soon be graduating.


Although his life seems to have turned around, the legacy of his experiences is still with him.  It’s hard to hold down relationships.  “I was abandoned forever,” he says quietly.  “It’s hard to trust people, or I trust them too much and too fast and get disappointed.”

When he thinks about the future, he tries to be optimistic.  Stability is the thing that he wants most—“I would feel a lot better if I had security.”  But darker thoughts are not far away.  “I don’t feel young.  I’ve gone through so much stuff that most people haven’t dealt with.  I feel aged.  Things have always been so crazy .. there is no space for happiness.”  When he reflects on his experiences, he thinks about how they have shaped him and how he would like to remake himself. “But it’s hard to change the patterns, even when you know they exist.”


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Brook Burlando: This is My Home Mon, 20 May 2013 16:00:02 +0000 Story by Brook Burlando
Edited by Molly Miltenberger and Natalie St.Martin
Drawing by Natalie St.Martin
Photography by Della Chen

By age 15 I had stumbled onto a genius trick. All I needed to say was that I wanted to kill myself and I’d be placed into a hospital. When I was a psych patient, I wasn’t a foster kid.


I had been voluntarily and involuntarily placed in adult and adolescent psychiatric wards numerous times.  After living in a therapeutic group home for two years, I was placed into my last official foster home at 17 and I struggled through the 10th grade for the 3rd time.

The school system could not balance the credits I had earned from the numerous school districts I had moved through. Finally I dropped out of the 11th grade and stepped out on my own as a vulnerable and naïve 19 year old who had “aged out” of a system that had failed me as miserably as my own family had years before.

I had been taught zero life skills. I’d never held a job. I didn’t know how to make a doctor’s appointment. I didn’t know what a budget was or how to fill out a check. I didn’t know how to apply for an apartment or scramble an egg.

The first place I moved to was a room for rent in a crack house. I was terrified and practically helpless. I was thrilled at not being a foster kid, but I didn’t know anything else. One fact that gave me a sense of control over my life was that no one would get paid to house me ever again. I had been consistently treated as a second-class person in foster homes—I was valued as a source of income, but not wanted or loved as a human being.

As a child, I had been sexually abused by my dad for as long as I could remember. When I was 12 years old, I told a staff member at school. Child Protective Services removed me from my family during lunch recess the next day.

I was not allowed to say goodbye to my brothers or to call my mom. Over night, I lost all contact with my parents, my twin brother, my five other brothers, my grandma, my aunt, and a God that I thought I knew. I had only the clothes on my back.


On one of the first nights away from my family, I laid in a twin sized bed that I shared with another foster kid and listened to the foster mom talk with her neighbor, who was also a foster mom. Over their nightly tea, the two women ran down the list of names of each kid in their homes and compared prices for each. The neighbor was jealous of the amount my foster mom received for me. My foster mom explained that if she accepted the older ones, she too could earn more money.

At 13, I almost killed myself by swallowing an entire bottle of allergy medication. I did not intend to die; I merely wanted attention—any attention. I learned to survive the foster care system and all my loneliness, anger and sadness by threatening suicide, self-harming or wildly acting out. I became labeled by my caseworkers as “hard to place” and was set into a pattern of being placed only into homes licensed as Respite, which meant moving between homes roughly every 35 days.

One Respite placement was exceptionally abusive.  It was the only placement I ever attempted to run away from. The other girls and I were kept locked in the basement.  Food was set out for us on the top step of the stairs. We fought like animals for the food because there was never enough. The other girls would gang up on me.  On more than one occasion I woke up in the bathtub, stripped of my clothing, having been beaten unconscious by them.

I called my caseworker and she told me she was calling the police and that I had better return to the home because everyone was sick of my lies and no one else wanted me.

After I aged out, I relied on my previous “suicidal behaviors” and spent the next five years in and out of psychiatric hospitals. I was placed on Social Security and I tried to navigate a world that I didn’t feel I belonged in. I depended heavily on the few adults that invested in a relationship with me. In a sense I forced them to replace and fill the role of family.


Then, within a two week time period, I became homeless, unemployed, and discovered that I was pregnant.  At 26, I had surrounded myself with immaturity, drugs, sex and chaos.  I was out of control emotionally, and detached from God, people and myself.

As a young girl, I had wanted to be a mom.  In fact, I wanted to be a great mom. I longed for traditions, routine, permanency and worth. But because I was homeless during my pregnancy and had no friends or family willing to house me, I was at serious risk of losing my child to the system.

After living in shelters for 8 months, I found housing through Catholic Community Services.  I was able to give birth and bring my child home with me. I was scared and overwhelmed to be a mom, but in the group home, I observed other mothers and copied them. I knew that I knew nothing about parenting, so I learned to ask questions. I grew up fast!

God gave me my son in order to turn my life into a new direction–a direction that shows me just how good He is and just how protective He is. God has shown me that He was with me all along, even when I was at my lowest and my loneliest.


He showed me that I am not as indispensable as I had felt in that first foster home. He was with me when I swallowed the bottle of medicine. He heard me as I was burning and cutting on myself; while I screamed, “Can’t you see how I’m hurting!” He has kept me alive, and helped me to learn to live in new ways.



I’m sitting at my kitchen table as I write this and my son is running around playing. My life now resembles nothing like the life of growing up in the foster care system. Instead of bouncing around from home to home, I have raised my child in the same home for 8 years. His school photos are on the walls, food is in the fridge, and clothes are in the closets. The electricity is on; the house plants are growing. There are sticky spots on the floors, and a cat is curled up on the couch. This is my home. This is the home that I wanted as I was aged out of the foster care system. I’m surrounded by friends and family. I don’t question my worth. I know I’m wanted and even cherished. I no longer live terrified of my future or the unknown. I have stability, maturity and strength. I have joy and a huge sense of humor.




I am that great mom I wanted to be, but none of this is because of my own strength. My son Tress is 11 years old and such a sweet hilarious blessing. Miraculously, in the past few years I’ve been reunited with my biological family. I’m able to forgive my parents. I was a foster kid and I was aged out. Now I’m living a healthy life full of worth and meaning. There is hope.


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Tree Re-growing: One Young Man’s Story Through Foster Care and Beyond Wed, 01 May 2013 14:00:34 +0000 Story and Photographs by Kristie McLean

The following is the story of Dennis Allan McCardle, 29, who shares about his experiences in the foster care system and his life beyond. The tone of the fragments is choppy in the way that Dennis’s memories and formative years were choppy. Some of Dennis’s early recollections are included as a crucial backdrop to his aging-out story.

I was born in Oklahoma City. My mom was a carnival person, a Carnie, at that time and she and my dad drove a semi truck. I was just born in a city they were in. My dad wasn’t in the picture very long, and she married a guy named Richard. Somehow Richard got custody of me for a while. Then I ended up with her again. Then she ended up getting arrested. That’s really what I remember from before.

I thought my mom was the greatest woman in the world. I was very attached to her.  The fact is that she was not all that attached to me, or else she would have tried to do better than just to leave us all the time. There’s a lot of the story that I don’t know. Maybe it’s better I don’t know it.

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When I got put in the foster home I wasn’t allowed to see my mom. I had one of those carnival calendars that they make on fabric, the kind with your face and her face, and the calendar on there. It was one of my earliest memories. I slept on a mattress on the floor in a trailer home. I didn’t even have a room. I slept in the hallway right there. And the only thing I had was that calendar.

I have two sisters, and supposedly there’s another brother out there. My sister Rachel got adopted by a great family. When we got back in touch a few years ago Rachel said, “I always wondered why she would give me up and not you,” and I was like, “You got the better end of the deal. Man, I wish I would have got adopted.”

My great grandma’s name is Cleo, and I talk to her. Her husband, my great-grandfather, killed himself. Her son killed himself. And her other son, about 2 years ago, was sitting watching TV and had a massive heart attack on the couch right in front of her. It took the paramedics two hours to get there. So she had to sit and watch her dead son spasm for 2 hours. She had 11 mini strokes after that.

She’s doing a little bit better now, but she’s getting kind of senile. She calls me Dennis, but sometimes I think she’s calling me her son because her son’s name is Dennis Allan McCardle. I actually have my grandfather’s whole name, the one who killed himself.

Supposedly he celebrated the fact that he had a grandson, and he drove home from the bar and wasn’t heard from for a couple days, and then they found his car parked somewhere, and he’d shot himself in the head. But I never knew him. I just know the story.

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The worst part about it is the person who my family blames is my mom’s mother who was a foster child herself.

There’s a lot of pain in my family. It’s all blamed on this part of the family tree. Not my part, because I’m starting anew. I always said I’m not going to keep that, you know. I don’t have to keep that. A tree can regrow.

I first got into the foster care system when my mom was picked up on the side of the road. Some unmarked car just pulled up and picked her up and left me there. Finally someone came back and got me, and they put me in a foster home. It was a very racist home. I got blamed for everything. If it stunk, it was blamed on me. They also weren’t feeding my sister enough. She had discoloration on both sides of her face. I snapped and tried to kill my foster father. That’s when I got taken out of the home.

I got put in the Christian Children’s Ranch when I was 4. I went there on Christmas Eve. They had one of those Wish trees, but because I came on Christmas Eve my name wasn’t on the tree and I didn’t get a present from Santa Claus. I thought it was my fault that my mom went to jail and Santa was punishing me for it. I think Santa Claus felt bad that I didn’t get a present, and he went out to his car and rummaged around and brought back an old green Chester Cheetos’s shirt. I kept that shirt for a long time. It actually meant more to me than just about anything that I had.

I lived on this ranch in Idaho for 4-5 years. You called your foster parents “Mom and Dad.” I actually called there a little while ago, about 6 months ago, and the guy who ran it when I was there still runs it, Mr. Abbott, and he remembered me. He was like, “I remember you.”

My sister was with me, but she was in a different house. There were 5 houses on this estate. It’s 88 acres, and they had 5 big houses, where you have 15-16 kids in each house. She was in a different house. So from the get-go we weren’t close.

When my mom came back around, we begged her not to take us off the ranch. And when we got to the house, my sister threw a bigger fit and said, “I want to go home! You’re not my mom. My mom’s over there!”

You’ve got to understand, my sister was like one year old when she got put on the ranch. My sister didn’t know our mom. So you’re giving a little girl to someone she doesn’t even know. It was a difficult adjustment as a kid. You’re kind of torn. You have other people who you call your parents: another Mom and Dad.

But my mom said, “You’re my kids; I’m taking ya,” and we moved to Homedale, Idaho, which was this little Mexican town with like 1,200 people. Lots of migrant workers. They were always doing these busts, the immigration services; they were always going into different companies and doing busts. I started hanging out with gang members from the age of 10, like Hispanic gang members ‘cause they were cool or something, I guess.

We were Northdanos, which means “The Northerners.” We were all the ones who could speak English, and we used to wear red. The Southenos were the ones straight from the border. We used to run amok; but you’re talking about a town that had one sheriff and one cop, and he knew us all by name, and he’d be like, “Dennis, I’m going to tell your mom,” and I’m like, “Don’t tell my mom!”

I have fond memories of Homedale. I remember when my mom wanted to leave, I didn’t want to go. But her boyfriend wanted to leave. He worked up in Seattle and he wanted her to go with him, and she followed men anywhere and everywhere.

My mom favored me over my sister. She had the same mentality that her mom had. She didn’t like women. She used to beat my sister.

I started hanging out with a really bad crowd down in Tukwila, this group of black 74Hoover, a Crip gang. We lived in the La Rochelle apartments on 144th, and that was like their territory, I guess, so you either hung out with them or got picked on every day. So I switched colors from before. I was a “transformer” as they called it. I switched colors.

Dennis 01 Featured image

The good part was that no one messed with me at school once I became really with it. The bad part was that they wanted you to do stuff that’s bad. They wanted us to do dirt. That’s what they called it: “Doin’ dirt.”

During this time period my mom wanted to move to Houston, Texas, since that was where her brother lived. He had just got out of prison. Cocaine, or something like that.  So we packed up the vehicle and were like, “Alright, we’re going to Houston.”

On our way to Houston my mom sideswiped a vehicle and got pulled over, and they found out she had a warrant for her arrest in Idaho. She said, “I’m not going to prison,” and she stepped on the gas. We were on the news for a 60-mile chase from King County all the way to Chehalis. They closed off the entire freeway. They put the spikes out in the middle of the road and they popped the tires, and she told them not to come near the car. She said, “I’ll hurt my kids!”

I just wanted to get out of the car. But they broke her window with their gun, and they ripped her out. I was tall, so they thought I was an accomplice, so they pointed a gun in my face and told me to get out of the car. And they put me up against the hood of the car just to find out I was a child. So they ended up letting me go. But then we went back into foster care.

Welfare fraud, gang related activity, drug trafficking, you name it, she did it. She felt no remorse for anything she’d ever done. That’s when we knew we were going to be in the system for a while.

I was put into a foster home in Seattle. I stayed there for 5 days. It was only a short-term home. My sister was there too. And then we got moved to Olympia. We stayed there for about 6 months. We had just got enrolled in school. We were just starting to have friends who wanted to hang out and they said, “Well, we’re not a long-term home so you’ve got to go. So we got pulled out of school again. And I got put in Puyallup with the Roths.

When we got put in the State foster homes we kind of felt like nomads in the beginning because we were dumped around from home to home. Finally I met Jeff Claire at the Poodle Dog in Fife. I was dressed all thug-ish, but he used to tell me that he knew right when he saw me that God had his hand over me; ‘cause he saw a kid who had been through a lot but still had a good heart. That’s what he used to tell me.

I ran away just 3 days after we got moved to Puyallup. I went back to Olympia since all of my friends were there, but the Roths came and got me. Sandy (my foster mom) was like, “Don’t do that to us.”

My sister got moved out of that home because she’s bi-polar, fetal-alcohol syndrome. She started showing signs of that, and also because she’s just crazy, really; they’d wake up in the middle of the night and she’d be standing over their bed kind of lookin’ at ‘em, and they were like, “We can’t do this. This is a danger. What’s this kid going to do?” So she got put into Catholic Community Services or Catholic Child Services, whatever it is for high-risk kids. And I stayed with the Roths in Puyallup. So that was the last time my sister and I were together.

I lived in Puyallup and kind of started living a regular life. The state wasn’t always down my throat, although I wasn’t allowed to play sports; I wasn’t allowed to do much of anything since when you’re a foster kid they don’t want to be held liable.

When I was 13 I was given the option to tell my mom that I wanted to sever her rights as my guardian. I actually told her that regardless of what happened when she got out of prison that I would never go back and live with her again. She’d always been talking about when she got out that we’d be together, but I told her that would never happen. I made that decision when I was 13.

Dennis 12

I wanted to have a normal life. I wanted to be like all the other kids at school and be able to just go home to one parent. I didn’t want to be in a gang or be forced into something that I didn’t want to be in because of my surroundings, because of the people SHE felt comfortable with. At first my mom was kind of defensive. She said I didn’t have the power to do that, but Jeff Claire and my foster parents were there, and Jeff said that in the State of Washington I did have the power to do that. She pleaded a little bit, but I didn’t budge.

Jeff Claire is my social worker. He’s still like a father figure to me. He’s one of my best friends. He’s the one who got me connected to SalaamGarage.

I stayed with the Roths for a while, but I started going to bible study with a man named Steve Mosari. I started hanging out with his family. At that time, me and Sandy (my foster mom) were always butting heads and getting in arguments, and Steve didn’t think it was right the way they were treating me sometimes. So he and Jeff made a decision that I’d be better off living with Steve.

Living with the Mosaris had an appeal because they were millionaires. They had like three car dealerships in Puyallup. So we’re talking big house, never wanting for anything. It had the appeal, so I went. And even though I was having problems with Sandy, I was just a kid. Who doesn’t have trouble with their parents? It’s probably one of the biggest decisions I regret in my whole life, leaving the Roths.

I stayed with the Mosaris about a year, and I let my guard down. I felt comfortable. They got everybody to back off. I was able to do martial arts. They got it so that I was able to live like a normal child.

I started having anxiety. Their mom was a nurse, and she really helped me. I didn’t eat for 7 days one time because I was afraid I was going to choke on the food. And she talked me into eating. She showed me how to eat.

Then things started going downhill and they kicked me out. They blamed it on horrible stuff.

First they said “we’re going to make you go to this group home for a couple days so that we can get a bearing on things.”

Then they came back and said, “Oh, well we found this.”

I was a teenage boy; I had a dirty magazine in my room. I was a teenage boy! But they found one of their daughter’s shirts mixed in with my laundry. We all used the same laundry. It wasn’t like it was an undergarment shirt. It was just a tank top. But they accused me of liking their daughter that way, which I didn’t at all. Even Jeff Claire thought it was very absurd the things they were doing.  Her boyfriend was one of my really good friends in high school. I was best friends with her boyfriend’s little brother, so I was like, “No, this doesn’t make sense!”

It was a purple tank top that they found in my clothing, and it was in my laundry basket at that. But they didn’t want me living with them any more. They kicked me out, and my 18th birthday was literally a month and a half away.

They put me in another home with people called the Nesses, but I ran away from there within a week. I called them and I told them, “Hey, I’m not coming back,” and they said, “Well, we’re just going to call the police.” And I said, “Go ahead; let’s see if the police can find me within a month. Because I turn 18 and you guys are going to kick me out anyway.”

And she’s like, “Well, we would at least try to help you before you leave next month.”

But I said, “No, I’ll just help myself.”

I was basically told I was going to be booted out the following month, regardless, so I left early. I went to a friend’s house, and I was homeless for a while. I could deal with the abuse when I was a kid, but the Mosaris broke my heart because I really liked them. Going through all that and building such a strong bond, just to get booted to the street, it was the last straw. I couldn’t go to another home just for it to happen again.

I remember talking to Jeff, right before I went into the Service, and he told me, “You’re not the same person anymore. Your heart, you seem very cold.”

Dennis 03I went into the Service more out of need than out of want because I didn’t want to be homeless. I’d sit at the casino all night because you could be 18 at that time. I’d sit and wait till morning and then go crash out on a friend’s couch.

When I got in the Service I started drinkin’ heavy. I had a higher tolerance level than most people, and I was told it was probably because alcoholism ran in my family. Me and Stephanie got together while I was in the Army and we stayed together for a very short period of time. We ended up splitting up, which was my fault. That was a bad time.

I got out of the Service early because of my anxiety and depression and I became homeless again almost automatically. I reached out to a few people, my friend Dennis and my friend Joey, who are like my two best friends today. I was able to stay at their house and get on my feet, which wasn’t very easy. I failed miserably.

I ended up going and seeing Stephanie. She turned me down, so I left. I went to Cleveland and started selling magazines door-to-door across the country.

I’d call Stephanie from time to time since I had her number memorized. She didn’t always want to talk to me. Or she was busy. I’d always call her when she was at work. I lived in a bottle during that period of time.

I came back to Washington only to be homeless in a matter of weeks. People started spreading rumors in the little Filipino community that we had, saying that I was a mooch and that I was a bad kid. But I wasn’t bad. I was just homeless.

I was looking for a little support. It was basically like being an orphan. My friend Dennis lived with his parents until he was like 28, and I was so envious of that. I would always try to get people to get an apartment with me. When they said, “No, I’m just going to go live with my mom and dad” I hated them for it. I literally despised people just ‘cause they had that option.

I never actually slept on the street. I’d go sit at the casino all night. They started to know me, and the manager used to come over and give me a meal, like a hamburger and French fries for free. But then I got an offer to go back selling magazines, and I ended up calling Stephanie again and having her come meet me at a bar. It was the first time that she would come meet me. We talked a little bit. I gave her a kiss on the forehead and that was it.

I met a girl in New York when I was back selling magazines, and then she said she was pregnant and she went home to Arizona. I followed because I wanted to be a part of my kid’s life. Knowing I was having a kid was when I quit thinking about myself and started thinking about my daughter. That was a good decision.

I found a job within a few days and I saved up money and got my own place, and I kept finding better jobs until finally I had a job that was decent. I started getting more skills under my belt. I made pretty good money, especially for someone like me.

When I actually saw my daughter Addison, that’s the first time I ever felt like there was somebody who shared my blood that was going to need me for the rest of their life. I cried so hard when I had her. She was such a pretty little girl.

Then came 2 other pretty little girls and a chunky little boy. It was the first time in my life that I actually felt like I had a family. In foster care half the time you just feel like a number.

Dennis 09

My kids were my full motivation for being able to cope. I realized that I didn’t like the mother and we didn’t get along at all. I don’t know why I kept having kids with her. But I didn’t want to leave my kids because I didn’t want to be like my mom. I would think, “Well, okay, I can leave her when they all turn 18!” But I ended up leaving her last year.

Me and Stephanie started talking again and we realized we still had feelings for each other. I talked to Stephanie over the years because she would still listen to me. Even though we weren’t together she would still talk to me. Sometimes all that you need is just for somebody to sit there and talk to you. So I came here and we got together, and we’ve been together ever since.

For a long time everything felt so unfair. Why do I have to keep switching homes? Why do I keep having to bump around? Why can’t I have parents who would let me stay with them until I went to college or got a nice job?

I would tell others who are struggling, I’d tell them that it does get better. It’s taken me 12 years and I still would have a problem facing my last foster parents, but life in general does get better as long as you let it. It’s like a disease. You’ve got to cure it or it’s going to keep eating away.

For kids that are aging out, don’t rely on anyone but yourself. You’re a foster kid, and being a foster kid means that there’s a real possibility that you’re going to be doing things alone. Don’t give up, and prove everybody else wrong. Use that as your motivation if you want. Don’t get put in jail just so that you have a place to stay. Don’t do drugs. Just don’t give up. If you give up, all those people who said you’d never be anything, they’ve already won.

I might have been able to get some help, but I gave up when I turned 18. I was just done. I didn’t want anything to do with any part of foster care, social workers, anything. I felt too lied to.

I think of that Carrie Underwood song “Temporary Home” with that little boy. I really feel like that little boy, waiting in the courtyard, to see where he’s going. That was me.

I try to move on from these things and I try to say, “Hey, look what I’m doing now!” but I bet that most of my anxiety stems from this. I went through a phase where I was really afraid that Stephanie was going to leave me. Not because I did anything bad, but because I’m afraid that things are too good to be true. When you come from where I come from, things never get to be too good to be true.

Dennis 06

I appreciate Stephanie with everything. I’m proud of her job in early learning. Everybody says we’re like newlyweds. I couldn’t be with someone who’s better for me. She’s the love of my life. We both know it was probably just bad timing before. We were both being formed.

If a child tells you that they love you, they really love you. It’s your job to hold up to that set of standards that they deserve. My kids aren’t my friends; they’re my kids. They’re my blood and my family.  I’m going to love them, and they look to me for support, not as a buddy to talk to. I’ve seen the friend-friend thing, and that’s the parent who lets the kid smoke cigarettes and do stupid stuff.

When I think of home, I think of my kids. I think of my wife. I think of her kids. Our kids. That’s home. I don’t think of walls, or place. I think of them. They’re my home. Because no matter where they are, they’re going to be my home.


Dennis and Stephanie gave birth to Arabella Serenity on October 13, 2012. The three of them, along with his children and her daughters, continue to learn, heal together, and re-grow their unique and evolving family tree.

Dennis 10

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What’s in that box? Tue, 16 Apr 2013 16:00:30 +0000 Story by Jeff Bettger
Edited by Molly Miltenberger
Video by Justin Benjamin, Jeff Bettger, and Will Foster
Photos by Will Foster
Music by Justin Benjamin, Mitch Orr, & Jeff Bettger

Ralph has a deep voice, a huge smile, and a gentle spirit.  He is a kind and gracious man who commands your attention. Ralph wanted love and acceptance throughout his childhood.  Nobody ever wanted Ralph.

Ralph’s story begins at age two when a social worker took him and his brother Sam away from their parents. They stayed in the homes of various friends and temporary families until he was four.  His father came to visit them.  His dad loved him.  He still doesn’t understand why he could not go back to live with his parents, or why his Mom lost him and his brother to the court system.

That day when he was four, his case worker picked him up and never brought him back to his brother.  After that, Ralph was moved from foster home to foster home.  He went with the circumstances because they gave him no reasons.

One of the families would lock him out of the home when they wanted to punish him or to go on a family outing.  When a neighbor confronted the family about this, they said that they didn’t love Ralph.

Another family would force him to stand in the corner against the wall, balancing a penny on his nose.  Another used a large paddle with holes in it to “correct” his behavioral problems.  At last he threatened to use the paddle on his foster parent during one of these “corrections.”

There was one family that really cared about him and accepted him as their own.  Ralph still regrets that he sabotaged this relationship when he spoke angrily to his foster mom about something that was said to him.  Within an hour, a caseworker had come to pick him up and take him away.  He was 13 years old.  It was the last time that he would be in a home.

After leaving the final foster home, Ralph spent a weekend in juvenile detention.  At the end of that, the caseworker gave him five minutes to decide whether to stay there in juvenile detention or to go to a boys’ home.  He went with the boy’s home.

In the boys’ home, Ralph began to experience drugs and alcohol.  When he was 16, some of his drinking partners put him in the back of a truck and told him that he was being kidnapped and brought to California.

He jumped out of the back of the truck and split his head open on the highway.  Another car stopped at the blood on the road and took him to the emergency room.  After almost dying, he spent the next week in a coma.  They called him John Doe at the hospital since he had no ID and no family to call.

Fortunately, one of the nurses had worked at the boys’ home, and recognized Ralph.  He went back to the boys’ home, and one of the house parents told him that he had a purpose.

It was the first time he had heard about religion.  After his traumatic childhood, he did not feel that just one more traumatic life experience was reason to believe that life has meaning.

He lived at the boys’ home for a total of five years and left at age 18, with no educational diploma and no GED.  He had no idea of what to do, how to get a job, or even where to sleep.  It was the beginning of life on the streets.

Ralph is now 55 years old.  He is still haunted by the feeling that he did something wrong to lead to his own abandonment, and he still shuts down against everyone to cope with his pain and fear.

He has been married to his wife Becky for many years, following 4 previous marriages, divorces, and multiple children who are themselves lost to the foster system.  Becky reads for him since few of his foster parents encouraged his education and he did not learn how.  He credits it to her that he is not on hard drugs.

Ralph hates the fact that he never had a relationship with his parents, and that he has no relationship with his own children.  He’s been told that there were thirteen foster homes that he stayed in during his childhood, but he looks at that number skeptically.  There seemed to be more.

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Pieces: A story of Aging Out of Foster Care Tue, 12 Mar 2013 16:02:41 +0000 Story by Natalie St.Martin
Photos by Stephanie Hansen

Candace says her life has been like an earthquake. Picture everything shaking until great cracks appear and then widen into impassable chasms. Broken apart. This year is different, however. She says that right now things are starting to be put back together.

Separated from her alcoholic mother at age nine, Candace does not know who her dad is. She was put in foster care when her mother was put in prison. By that early age she had already learned to fight; her five brothers taught her how to protect herself and see the world in terms of respect and disrespect. Fighting was her MO in her teens: “I was a firing ball of flame, I didn’t care about nobody.” She had a good foster mom for three years, but still she ran away at age thirteen. “I thought I was grown,” she says, “and nobody could tell me what to do.” Youth homes, treatment centers, jail – she went from one to the other until she reached eighteen. She ended up aging out of foster care while in jail. A week before her eighteenth birthday, she was told she would be allowed to contact her mother. Candace started putting the pieces together and realized she was aging out. She didn’t have anyone to come get her from the remote town where the jail was located, so she asked for help from the staff and they agreed to buy her a Greyhound bus ticket to the city.

Candace explains what that time was like: “They didn’t want to deal with me no more. They said ‘oh no, you need to go! We don’t want to help you – you are too much of a burden.’ That’s how it felt. I got off the bus and didn’t know what to do. I’m eighteen years old, don’t have no ID, don’t have no money, don’t have nothing…so where am I suppose to go?”

Walking around an outdoor mall in Denver that day, the first person she encountered was an ex-boyfriend who was now a pimp. While staying with him and seeing the piles of cash girls brought in, she began to consider prostitution as something she might do to earn money. She ended up contacting her mother about it: “Me, knowing my mom was a prostitute at one time, I just asked my mom. Who better to ask than your mom?”

From ages eighteen to twenty-one she was sold up and down the I-5 corridor by at least four different men. One of them would send her back and forth between LA and Vegas where she would walk the track at night and keep house for him by day. Sometimes she would manage to leave a pimp, all of whom were violent, but then a new boyfriend would show up with a new plan, inevitably involving prostitution or drug dealing. She met folks from New Horizons Ministries and REST (Real Escape from the Sex Trade) while their teams did late night outreach on the streets of Seattle in 2010.

In the past two years, things have changed a lot for her. She is doing well in a restorative housing program through REST, and she recently got a part time job at a coffee shop.  She also has a significant new tattoo: the prints of newborn baby feet are inked prominently on her chest.

Six months ago Candace gave birth to a baby girl. She talks passionately and emotionally about her love for her daughter, explaining how she has completely rearranged her priorities. Two days after she gave birth, however, her baby was put in foster care, in large part due to the guy Candace was dating at the time. Candace recounts in painful detail what it was like for her when she had to surrender her baby to Child Protective Services: “I went ape shit, crying a gallon – felt like I could have killed someone.” Because of her own traumatic experience of being taken from her mother, Candace says, “I never thought I would have a child and have that child taken from me!” She is working hard to get her daughter back, something her mother was never able to do.

The highlights of Candace’s week are when she goes to the foster care visitation center to spend time with her daughter. Candace has dozens of photos and videos of her on her phone. They look a lot alike: both have beautiful, expressive faces with high foreheads, arched eyebrows, and the same tilt to their eyes.

Candace will turn twenty-three soon. She is a smart, witty, and artistic, though she admits that she has learned to play dumb for survival. Her anger still flares up easily, and she defaults to a tough girl attitude. In her words, “I try to act like a hard ass—still do to this day—it comes with the life I was put in, not by choice.” Yet when talking about her baby, she is very soft. And with people she trusts she has begun to let her walls down, even call off the guard dogs, she says laughing. She feels intensely protective and yet sometimes helpless as a new mother, admitting that she doesn’t always know what to do when her little one cries. Her determination to take responsibility for her daughter, and her compassion for the situation she is in, are very promising for their future—together.

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Book On SALE Now! Sun, 06 Jan 2013 02:32:57 +0000 Everybody Needs Someone, The Aging out of Foster Care Project Book is nearly sold out.  Order your copy today and help us afford a second run!

You can order our book through paypal by selecting the Buy Now button below. The book is 94 pages, 9″x12″. Funds raised through the sale of the book will go right back into production of the Aging Out of Foster Care project and to help local NYC non-profit You Gotta Believe.

Aging Out of Foster Care



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Brittny Updates & House Hunting Wed, 12 Dec 2012 13:48:46 +0000
Brittny in her new winter coat, it fits perfectly

A few weeks ago we asked you to help us raise money for Brittny Boden, a 24 year old we profiled in our Aging out of Foster Care project. Brittny was in danger of becoming homeless when the rent on her subsidized apartment went up past market value. You came through for her, pitching in $2649 to date! Thanks to you, she now has the money for bills, groceries, and the ability to put a deposit on an affordable apartment in a better neighborhood.  Just in time too – there was a fatal shooting right next door to her apartment in Hempstead, NY, the third shooting in one week on her block.

Brittney received some good news this week. Tuesday December 11, 2012 was Brittny’s first day at her new job at Catholic Charities, and she received notice that she passed the New York State Child Protective Service exam!

Brittny’s immediate needs are taken care of for the month, but we’d like her to be able to make a great impression at her new job. She could use new work appropriate clothing. We’re so proud of how far she’s come, and we would really love to give her this last little gift to help her transition to her new life.

Thanks again for all your help! donate this week.

Special thanks to One Simple Wish, an organization that grants simple wishes to foster kids. They have offered to subsidize her expensive commute for a month. More special thanks to author Lauren Barnholdt for her substantial contribution. Follow them on Twitter @LaurenBarnholdt and @OneSimpleWish

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Action: Brittny needs your help Wed, 21 Nov 2012 22:27:37 +0000

GOAL: $1734 by December 12th, 2012 ($2,649 raised so far!!!)

Christmas is a time when most people think of getting together with family at home. But this Christmas Brittny Boden, a 24 year old we profiled in our Aging out of Foster Care project, is facing eviction from her low-income housing complex, and has neither family nor friends to turn to right now to help her.

Her previously subsidized apartment is now above market rate

Brittny’s apartment in Hempstead, NY had previously been fully subsidized as part of a Nassau County homelessness prevention program for youth who aged-out of the foster care system. But when funding abruptly dried up, her rent reverted to an above-market rate of $1124 a month, which is only $40 less than the $1164 Brittny made per month as a department manager at Walmart ($9.30/hr).

Luckily, this week she started a new job with Catholic Charities at a home for the mentally ill and her income increased to $12.17 an hour.  But her rent isn’t her only bill. She doesn’t have a car and her current commute is $18/day to get to and from Huntington Station where she is working for the next few months.

She’s worked hard to try to fix her situation

Brittny is a resilient and clever young woman who has tried multiple tactics to get her home situation remedied and get her rent lowered to a reasonable rate:

  • Petitioned multiple times to have her rent lowered unsuccessfully
  • Called organizations for homelessness prevention (didn’t qualify for aid because she doesn’t have children)
  • Tried to apply for section 8 housing (2.5 year waiting list)
  • Got a roommate to share rent (who skipped out without paying after 2 months)

It seems unfair that there are two apartments in her complex where women are paying only $250 or $25 for monthly rent. Why is Brittny being penalized with a higher rate? Because she is working, and is deemed “above the poverty line.”

Brittny has gumption and aspires to help others in her situation

Brittny is working towards her goal of moving up within Catholic Charities to work with foster youth.  She graduated in May with a degree in Psychology from SUNY’s Westbury State University.  It is an incredible achievement for someone who was in and out of homeless shelters during her college years. Brittny doesn’t quit but she does get down sometimes.

She’s now in debt and will likely be evicted at Christmas

Brittny graduated college only to enter a dismal job market.  Then Superstorm Sandy arrived, Walmart was without power and so she couldn’t work (and make rent money). Even though she did everything she could, she now owes over $5000 in back rent and $500 in utilities.  Her final hearing is on November 29th, 2012 (1 week from Thanksgiving).  She is pretty sure that she will be evicted within 30 days.  If she doesn’t have a place to go at that time, her belongings will be taken to Bennett Storage in Hempstead where they will be auctioned off.

Brittny doesn’t have family to help her – she needs US

Brittny doesn’t have a family the way most of us do.  That’s because Brittny aged-out of the foster care system a few years ago.

That is why we are putting out this one-time call-to-action to help a worthy young woman get a fresh start.

GOAL= $1734 by December 12th, 2012

What the money is needed for

  • Rent/deposit: Brittny first and foremost needs cash to pay for first, last and deposit for an affordable apartment in Jamaica, Queens. All of New York rent is incredibly high, but Jamaica is a good solution for Brittny because it’s one of the most affordable places to live, she has a church and friends there, NYC Subway and she will be neat the LIRR to get to work.
  • Commute costs: Tickets for Long Island Railroad (daily roundtrip is $10 plus taxi from the station to work)
  • Clothes: If we can get that taken care of, Brittny could use money towards some winter basics like a coat and boots, and also some clothes to help her look professional at work. She knows it’s important to dress for the job you want and not the job you have. It’s a little challenging to shop for clothes when you are size 5X woman with size 11 shoes ($83.69 Winter coat, $39 boots, $25 new tops)  But she is the best person to choose clothing.  We’ll accept donations of used clothing in NYC.  But prefer you donate the cost of shipping to the fund than send clothing she may not love.

Every little bit helps

Any amount you can donate, from $10 to $100, anything you can manage. Brittny is already immensely touched. She is an inspiring young woman who is trying to build a better life for herself.  Please help her do that.

Click Here to Donate to our Brittny Fundraiser
Meet Brittny
Photos and Video by William Vazquez


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Amanda Koster: TEDX San Luis Obispo Wed, 07 Nov 2012 17:36:13 +0000 Amanda Koster, founder of SalaamGarage gets personal while sharing her experiences as a kid, ending up in ‘respite’ care, how SalaamGarage got started with her amazing teams and filled a vital need. Finally,  the deeply personal “why” storytelling is so close to her heart.

She challenges the audience to reach out to those who are aging out of the foster care system to Teach1Thing to 1 person that will make a big difference, very simply. Amanda is later interviewed and reviewed  by Forbes.

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Event: SalaamGarage at Apple Store SoHo NYC Nov. 19 Tue, 06 Nov 2012 21:21:59 +0000

NOVEMBER 19: APA/NY Apple Lecture
Maggie Soladay presents SalaamGarage

Shoot Photos, Cause Change

Monday, November 19, 2012


SoHo Apple Store (103 Prince St)

Free Admission (seating is limited)

*no advance registration is required


SalaamGarageNYC chapter chief, producer and photography editor Maggie Soladay will be speaking about how to make positive social change happen through photography.  Sharing photography from the current and ongoing Aging-Out of Foster Care in NY project and other SalaamGarage humanitarian media projects.

For More:

Maggie Soladay is an editorial photography editor, producer, and photographer based in NYC.  She is a passionate activist, using her knowledge of the old and new media to tackle the world’s humanitarian and environmental problems.  Maggie believes everyone has a calling to give back to the communities they care about. And photographers and journalists have a special duty:  “We can be officers of justice and social change by putting our media skills to use for good.”

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