By Brenda Weyers, Associate VP, Visual Brand
On Friday, May 2, Fremont’s Project Everlast Council gathered at for lunch at the Wooden Windmill to honor their “superheroes.” Their way of celebrating Foster Youth Awareness Month was to call attention to the adults who have meant so much to them while in the system.
They day’s keynote speaker, Jacob Rusher of Lutheran Family Services, spoke of his past experience with Project Everlast and how his job at Lutheran Family Services as a family finder helps to reconnect youth have aged out with important people from their past. When the biological family isn’t in the picture, young people still need adults they can look up to. Jacob helps young people find the teachers, coaches, neighbors and family friends that had an impact on them in the past, and would be good mentors and touchstones for the future.
Brian Kempkes of Lutheran Family Services also shared the struggles and joys of fostering (and eventually adopting) a teenager. Right now, there are only 5 active foster homes in Dodge County, so the need is great.
After the buffet lunch, the young people from Project Everlast Fremont got up and told the stories of the adults who have been superheroes in their lives, and gave each of those adults a special award.
Toughing it out award
This award goes to someone who stood by our side no matter what we threw at them. They never gave up on us when everyone else in their right mind would have. Against all odds, they saw something inside of us and wanted, truly wanted to help. They gave unwavering support, countless words of advice but most importantly they never gave up on us. We would like to thank you, Julius and Michelle Biggs for toughing it out.
Guardian Angel Award
He is a helper, but not just any helper; he goes above and beyond what any ordinary person would do. He will go far beyond your bar of expectations, helping in any way that he can. He truly makes a difference with any one they come into contact with, watching over the young and protecting them from the evils of the world. This award goes to Father Peter for being our Guardian Angel.
#1 Caseworker Award
We all have our favorites whether it be football teams, food or color. We have favorites for people too; aunts, uncles, sisters or brothers. This award goes beyond the “favorites” category because he is the best, our #1. He is continually raising the bar of expectation and excellence not only for himself, but for everyone involved in every case. He strives for perfection and yet is still kind, caring, and compassionate by nature. It was a very hard decision and an even closer vote but we would like to tell Seth Coates that he is going a great job and is our #1 caseworker.
When people on the outside look in at the foster care system, they see the children, foster parents, and caseworkers. What very few people realize is that foster youth have their own army standing behind them at all times ready to fight for what’s in the child’s best interest. Our generals are our guardians ad litem. They helped us through intimidating situations, supported us and led the way, and advocated for children that were and still are in foster care. This year’s award winner never gives up on the child no matter the situation. She gives unwavering support and reminds all of her children that no matter how dark a situation seems, she always has our back supporting and fighting for the youth she represents. Thank you Leta Fornoff for being the Best GAL you can be.
From a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, a hug to help you through or words of wisdom, he/she has given it all. Never expecting anything in return, he/she is always cheering us on, helping us with any and almost everything we could possibly need. Thank you, Felicitas Cardenas for being a great supporter.
Good Friend Award
We all have good friends, right? A good friend is someone who has always been there for you. They are loyal, there in the middle of the night when you call. If you have a fight they are willing to let you stay there, and they always have a shoulder to cry on. There are millions of things to say for a friend, that is why we have nominated Mrs. Penke because she has done these things and more. Mrs. Penke, you are a good friend.