Olympic Angels is founded on the vision that every young person in foster care deserves healthy, affirming, and lasting relationships with trusted adults.
Our belief is that if the harm came to children in relationships than that is where the healing will happen as well. We all can do something to improve foster care for children. Most of the work to be done is relationship work. Work that is done by committed adults showing up again and again and again to remind children that their lives matter. This is slow work and the most important kind.
We are watching in amazement as healthy relationships with committed volunteers change the actual experience of the foster care system for our children. In our small corner of the world, the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State, it turns out that community involvement was what was missing from the foster care system.
Our goal for 2021 is to see TWICE the number of children matched with their someone this year. Our annual campaign is called Who's Your Someone to keep relationships at the center of all we do. We know that for every dollar raised, we get closer to matching more children with their Someone in the coming year.
In this spirit, we asked for the Olympic Angels community to reflect back on who was someone who showed up in their own personal journey to adulthood. We asked you to tell us what they did for you. How they changed your path. We got back a soulful response from so many of you.
We wanted to share some of your stories here:
When I was 19 I hit a fork in my path. It was impossible to imagine what could be ahead and I had no shortage of strong women in my life, but none of them had taken a path that I could picture myself on. Until I met Olga Ganoudis Designs, the first jeweler I worked for. She had her own business as an artist. She was fun, outspoken and passionate. Olga is an incredibly motivated and motivating woman. I say how much work she put into running her business and rather than scaring me away from that path, it lit a fire under me.
In the years that I worked for Olga I learned about making jewelry and running a business. But more importantly, she was the person who opened up my imagination to potential futures fo myself that I hadn't been able to see before. She was the person who made those possiblities, and the steps to get there, seemed doable.
For teens aging out of foster care, the obstacles are vase and plenty. Rarely do they have that person to help them imagine their future or navigate the steps forward. - Stephane Selle
My mom met Justine when I was only 1 years old in a mother's group and they quickly became best friends. My mom was a single mother and we had no extended family that lived near us. So Justine would babysit me. Her kids quickly became my best friends. I spent countless hours at her house even when she wasn't on babysitting duty.
Justine lived in a better school district and for a few years we used her address as my home address so I could attend a better elementary and junior high school. Lots of times I would go there after school on Friday and stay until Sunday evening. Her home became my second home.
When I was 10 my dad got a different job and had to move from Florida to Tennessee. I can remember being at Justine's shortly after he told me he was moving and crying in her arms.
Justine's house was the best place to be. Full of good snacks, fun and tons of kids. All of her kids' friends were always there and she let them use it as a safe haven when their own family lives were complicated. When I was 16 I was dealing with heartbreak, other teenage emotions and drama with my own mom. I felt so low and so bad about myself I contemplated doing dangerous/bad things. I drove to Justine's and told her all of this and how I wanted to live with her. Her and my mom had a long talk and I got to "live" with her for a week as she talked sense into me and helped me deal with everything.
Justine and her kids were my "village". Her daughters were the sisters I never had. I am so blessed that I had Justine to lean on and love me as her own. - Joy Johnson
Growing up with two much older siblings and a widowed, hard working mother, I was a latchkey kid! Thankfully I found a second family in our neighbors, the Woodgates. The three daughters, stay-at-home mother, and Nana welcomed me almost every school day when I came home with Virginia, the middle girl. They always included me, and we had many great times. We even made a laughing record on their old phonograph. When Tim and I married Mr. Woodgate, Vernon, flew to Chicago and walked me down the aisle. The Woodgate family changed my life. - Jan White
When I was little, Beau used to pick me up and carry me. He would lay me down on a hay bale and then pick me up again because it made me laugh. He did this so many times that he made it so he couldn't even pick up a cup of water - his arms were so sore. When my dog and cat died he came over to be with me.
One time my mom and I came back from a yard sale and we got a Belgian waffle maker, and Beau & I were picking raspberries to eat on the waffles. Then bald faced hornets attacked and Beau saved me and got two stings on his biceps and I didn't get one blemish.
When I was starting kindergarten, I had a hard time leaving my mom. So Beau would drive me to school and my mom would give me a lollypop so I had my lollypop for something to suck on while Beau would drive and he would place the same song every morning - it's sort of our song - Don't Stop Believing.
Every year on the first Saturday of November it's Beau & K day. The first Beau & K day, we made crowns out of construction paper. We wore our Beau & K crowns all day. This year when we went to Beau and K day it was usual Beau and K day except for one thing - we had the BEST PIZZA at this restaurant in Bremerton. This year we wore sashes. One year we wore badges.
Every Wednesday Beau picks me up from school and we hang out from 12-3. And once a month I get to pick a place to go out for lunch.
He's my godfather and that's how it became Mama-Dada-Beau instead of just Mama-Dad. - Kenenisa Hanna
It's not too late to share your story to raise awareness of Olympic Angels Annual Campaign. Visit www.olympicangels.org/someone to learn more.