Last Thursday, Nebraska Appleseed held its Good Apple Awards ceremony honoring, among others, Project Everlast for its role in helping LB 216, the Young Adult Voluntary Services and Supports Act, pass.
Amy West, Child Welfare Policy Coordinator at Nebraska Appleseed gave a heartfelt introduction, telling the audience, “I can wholeheartedly say that I never fail to be amazed by the strength, the passion and the heart that Project Everlast brings to the table.”
As a mentor to the group as they were working to get the bill passed, Amy became a mentor and friend to many of the young people involved. While describing how Project Everlast became the public face and voice of LB 216, a bill that would extend state services and supports until age 21 for young people who age out foster care, Amy told the audience, “Members of Project Everlast spent hours, days and weeks of their time advocating for LB 216 in meetings, with the media and at the capital.”
A group of Project Everlast youth came forward to accept the award. All of them were in someway involved in the effort to move LB 216 through the legislature.
Akeeme Halliburton was the first and last to speak, encouraging the others to introduce themselves and share their stories, then expressing his gratitude for the support of Nebraska Appleseed and the leadership at Project Everlast. “We never really expected an award,” said Akeeme, “I won’t really benefit from the new bill passing. I do it because I have brothers, and all the other foster kids are practically brothers to me also.”
Other young people in attendance who accepted the award include:
- Sarah Lindley, a young woman who turned 19 the very next day. She’s currently in school to become a firefighter in Lincoln.
- Kellie Mitchell from Norfolk, a 24-year-old stay at home mom of two young children
- Dalton Walker of Lincoln, NE who made it a point to express his sincere thanks to his Youth Advisor James Bowers.
- Azar Webb, an Omaha resident who has recently enlisted to serve in the U.S. Army as a means to help pay for college.
- Kristina DellaCroce, a 21-year-old mother from Lincoln who serves as a youth leader in the Lincoln Project Everlast Council.
Congrats, Project Everlast for all your hardwork and success getting this critical bill passed. And thank you to Nebraska Appleseed for your support and friendship of these young advocates.