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Some seasons come into our lives that force us to determine what really matters. We are all collectively living through such a season, and it’s tough. But I’d like to invite you, just for a moment, to look outside your immediate circle of family and neighbors. Look beyond their immediate needs to someone a little further away, someone you’ve never met before. Why? Because what we do affects others. If we’ve learned anything during this time, it’s that our actions affect those we may never meet. Washing our hands not only helps us, it helps someone else. Staying home helps someone else. And when people talk about not wanting to live the same way after this difficult time, most people mean they want to slow down and really care for their loved ones and communities.

Los Angeles is our community. And I invite you to consider another vulnerable population now, not just the elderly or immunocompromised. Consider youth in foster care. This vulnerable population will be looking for work in one of the worst economies in decades. In weeks, in months, in a year for some, they will reach their 21st birthday. And these young people will be on their own. We simply cannot fail them. What we do matters, and we must act generously to ensure they weather the other side of this pandemic, which will be filled with job insecurity. Like no other time in history vulnerable young people need connections, supports and resources to help them thrive- and Seen and Heard provides all three.

This coming year, we anticipate an expansion of programming to reach younger foster youth. We will hire more teachers. We will recruit more mentors to open doors to future careers. Our graduates need to stand above the rest when they look for work this year, and our first graduate Jeffrey, is sure to do that.

This is an excerpt of Jeffrey’s original piece which he wrote for his final project. Jeffrey completed 36 hours of training with us. Seen and Heard gave him time to slow down, grow in his strengths and strengthen his weaknesses. He’s worked hard and reached the finish line and we’re proud of him because he’s proud of himself. He wants to start a career in politics and Seen and Heard has helped define skills essential for that work.

Partner with us today to ensure students and alumni like Jeffrey transition out of the foster system and into independence with big dreams and the means to achieve them.