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GOL SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS: (from left to right) Irma Lucatero (parent of C. Escobar), Celina Escobar (GOL student going to Mt. San Antonio College), Pearla Wallace (parent of C. Van Ross), Casey Van Ross (GOL student going to Rio Hondo College), Beverly Kindrick (parent of T. McDavid), Taiwana McDavid (GOL student going to Bennett College), Bianca Achtmann (parent of J. Gonzalez), Jaime Gonzalez (GOL student going to CSU Los Angeles), Victor Achtmann (parent of J. Gonzalez) and Erving Fullerwood (GOL Logistics Director)
On Saturday, June 15 the Guardians of Love Foster Care Agency gathered behind their CEO, Reverend Ralph Butler, to honor the outstanding achievements of the agency’s children by awarding several scholarships and hosting a luncheon in their honor at the Embassy Suites Hotel in El Segundo, California.
GOL was founded in 1997 as a non- profit foster family organization that, after years of successful service, expanded as an adoption agency in 2009. In that time, GOL has served nearly 5000 foster children by providing safe, friendly, nurturing environments for them to grow and prosper within.
"This is the first year that GOL is providing scholarships to help foster children emancipate," said Kinikki Fullerwood,, GOL’s chief operating officer.
"Stats for foster kids are slim. We need to step up as an agency and go beyond. We all need to do our part to help our children emancipate successfully."
An emancipating foster child is faced with many obstacles that normal children do not traditionally deal with, such as the immediate need for housing, employment and lack of family support. These can seem like small hurtles, but can have debilitating emotional and social ramifications on the emancipating foster child, making organizations like GOL and other foster care support agencies critically important in a foster child's life.
“We are here because Guardians of Love cares about giving those youth, who don’t have a fighting chance, a fighting chance,” explained James Batiste, Jr. GOL Board Member. “We are here because making a difference in the lives of graduating high school seniors who are aspiring to go on to college, will have an impact on society. We owe it to ourselves to give back to the community within society.”
“We [Reverend Butler and his wife] had been thinking about it for a long time,” said Reverend Butler regarding why he created the GOL Scholarship fund. “I’ve always worked with kids all my life. These kids, they needed help. So, what I was able to do was for years, we gave out little things, but this time we wanted to have a big scholarship for our kids.”
Helping foster children emancipate, or successfully move out of the foster care system and onto their own feet or into some type of higher education institution is what GOL is doing by awarding over $4000 in scholarships and other prizes to four, high achieving foster children who are ready to emancipate as adults and go out into the world by attending four year universities.
Taiwana McDavid, a graduating foster student, who thanked her foster mother, Beverly Kendrick, and Reverend Butler for helping her achieve her goal of attending an HBCU, will be attending Bennett College in North Carolina in the fall. In addition to a financial check, the students all received Microsoft Tablets and gift baskets full of supplies such as notebooks, pens, picture frames and other useful scholastic items.
The luncheon, hosted by master of ceremony Dr. Bill Releford, with music provided by Greater Zion Choir, led by Pastor Michael Fisher, and praise dancers from Key of David Praise Dancers, provided attendees with a dish of chicken or salmon delicately served with garlic mashed potatoes, iced tea with a desert of strawberry cheesecake.
After the meal, the gathered crowd sat in silence as Reverend Butler spoke with soft voice, as his age left him unable to make it to the stage. Reverend Butler thanked the social workers, his executive staff and the planning committee for their tireless service to the children that have passed through his organization. The gathered crowd of pastors, students, political officials, social workers and former foster children stood in a standing applause, thanking Reverend Butler.
Next year, GOL executives expect to give another round of scholarships to high achieving high school seniors in the foster care system who are going on to college.
For more information about Guardians of Love Foster Care Agency or their scholarships go to www.GuardiansOfLove.org.