Great opportunities for children and youth!

This is the time of year that many parents start planning for summer camps or enriching experiences for their children. Before school is out, parents who are in need of child care scramble to sign their kids up for swim camp, sports camp, theater camp and more. Other parents find ways to take a vacation with their children or for their children to spend time with grandparents or relatives. For children from lower income families, summer enrichment opportunities can be prohibitively expensive. And once again the equity gap between children grows.

We are delighted to announce that the Social Justice and Witness committee received a large donation to address this inequity for children in foster care. FCC will be partnering with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Lane County to give school-age children an opportunity to attend a camp that matches their interests or to provide equipment needed to access experiences (in one example, CASA reported a boy was becoming an Eagle Scout but couldn’t afford the uniform). This effort has the capacity to make a huge impact on children in need!

CASA serves 390+ children who are placed into foster care because of abuse or neglect. 200 of these children are school age. CASA has 220 volunteers (many from FCC) who advocate for the needs of their assigned child.

In our partnership with CASA, children who would benefit from a summer enrichment activity will be identified; CASA volunteers will work with the child and resource parent (formerly called foster parent) to identify camps or experiences. CASA staff will leverage resources (small amounts of money from the state and willingness of some camps to give scholarships to low-income children) to ensure that the funds donated by FCC are used the most effective way possible. We are still working out the details with CASA and hope to be able to begin implementation in the next few weeks. Stay tuned!

On another front, thank you to Babs Sullivan and Stephanie Lonergan, and to all of you who donated plastic tubs. Babs and Stephanie have worked with Looking Glass to create an organized attic clothes storage area in the upstairs of their PEER Shelter (Persevere, Enlighten, Empower, Renew). This is a low-barrier shelter for unhoused youth 16-24 years old who often arrive with very little.

Led by the Mental Health Awareness group, this month the SJW committee will consider pursuing the designation of a WISE church Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive and Engaged), a designation within the United Church of Christ that affirms our commitment to those with mental health challenges or disabilities.

If you are interested in getting involved in any of these activities, or have ideas you would like to propose and lead, contact Val Close.