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Turlock Journal – Former foster youth pays it forward

By Kristina Hackerkhacker@turlockjournal.com209-634-9141, ext. 2004
POSTED June 26, 2013 4:33 p.m

Kevin Walls had a rough start to life. After being abandoned by his mother in a Turlock park at the age of 3, he spent the next five years in a group home. It wasn’t until he was 8 years old that he found a loving home with foster parents Don and Winnie Phillips.

The Phillips nurtured Walls,  and saw him graduate from Hughson High School. As an adult, Walls returned to his foster home to repay some of the kindness he was shown  by being a full-time caregiver for Winnie Phillips.

Now, Walls is hoping to honor his foster parents by giving back. On Wednesday, he delivered a check for $2,000 to Creative Alternatives. The donation will go to the Grace Bishop Scholarship Fund and financial support emancipating foster youth.

“Being a foster kid isn’t easy, you go through ups and downs in life,” Walls said about why he chose to support the Grace Bishop Scholarship Fund.

Turlock Journal – Scholarships benefit graduating foster youth

By Kristina Hackerkhacker@turlockjournal.com209-634-9141, ext. 2004
POSTED May 15, 2014 4:30 p.m

During her life, Grace Bishop was not only a founding board member of local foster youth agency Creative Alternatives, she was also one of the most passionate advocates for helping the hundreds of kids served by the agency.

“She was always saying, ‘We need to give our kids more services,'” said Creative Alternatives Human Resources Director Darren Borrelli.

Her legacy of caring for foster youth has continued, 16 years after her death, with the Grace Bishop Memorial Scholarship Fund. The scholarships are funded solely through donations from Creative Alternatives employees, community members and local businesses. Each year, all of Creative Alternatives youth who are turning 18 are able to apply for scholarship funds to help with the expenses of college or getting a full-time job and home of their own.

The youth then go through an interview process to make sure they have “a reasonable plan” for their future and the scholarship funds, said Borrelli.

Dillon Fries and Deshawn Lane are just two of this year’s 21 scholarship awardees. Both have plans to attend Merced College in the fall — Fries for business and Lane for fire science.

Fries said he was “a little nervous, but more excited” about living on his own for the first time. He said it was good knowing his scholarship funds would be there in case he needed it for school expenses or an emergency.

“Non-foster youth, we have our parents or families to help us when we go off to college. Foster youth don’t often have that help. The scholarship was created to help them. It’s hope for our kids, because for some of them Creative Alternatives is their family,” said group home social worker Veronica Ramirez.

To help raise funds for the scholarships, Creative Alternatives is holding a 1 mile, 5K and 10K run on June 7 at California State University, Stanislaus. Sign-in and registration will begin at 7 a.m., with the 1 mile starting at 8:15 a.m. and the 5K and 10K starting at 8:30 a.m. Preregistration for the 1 mile is $20 and $25 for the 5K or 10K. Race day fees are $25 for the 1 mile and $30 for the 5K or 10K. Parking is available on the day of the event in the lot across from the CSUS gymnasium. To register, call Darren Borrelli at 668-9361.

“We couldn’t do it without the community,” said Borrelli. “It’s all through the community.”

Turlock Journal – Scholarship fund aids graduating foster youth

khacker@turlockjournal.com209-634-9141, ext. 2004
POSTED May 21, 2015 8:30 p.m

As high school seniors prepare for graduation and to make their first life decisions as adults, they may seek advice (and financial assistance) from parents, siblings or extended family members. For many foster youth, however, there are no supportive family members able to help them transition from youth to adulthood.

That’s where Creative Alternatives and the Grace Bishop Memorial Scholarship Fund comes in.

“Many of the youth have zero family support, either financial or emotional,” said Creative Alternatives Supervising Social Worker Angela Potts.

Thanks to the California Fostering Connections to Success Act (Assembly Bill 12), enacted in 2012, foster youth can continue to receive help with living arrangements once they turn 18.  Creative Alternatives is one of the foster care agencies in Stanislaus County that serves young adults with AB12 and helps them find a place to live in the home of an approved relative, a non-related extended family member, a legal guardian, in a group home, with a licensed foster family home or on their own through Supervised Independent Living Placement.

Although AB12 has given many foster youth the chance to further their education instead of worrying about fully supporting themselves after they turn 18 years old, there are still needs to be met.

Grace Bishop, a founding board member of Creative Alternatives, was a fierce advocate for foster youth when she was alive and that dedication remains her legacy 17 years after her death with a memorial scholarship fund.

The scholarships are funded solely through donations from Creative Alternatives employees, community members and local businesses. Each year, all of Creative Alternatives youth who are turning 18 are able to apply for scholarship funds to help with the expenses of college or getting a full-time job and home of their own.

This year, a total of $15,500 was awarded to nine foster youths, including Roselawn High graduate Nicholas Hill.

Hill is still working out his living situation for when he turns 18 in July, but said he plans to attend Modesto Junior College in the fall with hopes of transferring to a four-year university to study Kinesiology.

He said he will use his scholarship money for a very practical purpose: “I’m hoping to buy a car to transport myself to college.”

Creative Alternatives raises funds year-round for the scholarship fund, but their biggest event is coming up.  The Grace Bishop Memorial Scholarship Run will be held June 6 on the campus of California State University, Stanislaus. The event will include a 1 mile, 5K and 10K run , with registration beginning at 7 a.m.,  the 1 mile starting at 8:15 a.m. and the 5K and 10K starting at 8:30 a.m. Preregistration for the 1 mile is $20 and $25 for the 5K or 10K. Race day fees are $25 for the 1 mile and $30 for the 5K or 10K. Parking is available on the day of the event in the lot across from the CSUS gymnasium. To register, call race coordinator Bruce Cresswell at 668-9361 or visit www.creative-alternatives.org.

Welcome to Foster Care

Creative Alternatives is a non-profit organization that finds, educates, and supports families to care for children placed in foster care.

As of September, 2013 there were over 400,000 abused and neglected children and youth in foster care in our nation. You can help! Our foster care experts are eager to answer your questions: e-mail or call today (209) 668-9361.

Children are in foster care because of neglect and abuse. They deserve to be in stable and loving homes—with a chance to have a normal childhood. There are many ways you can make a difference in their lives.

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