My husband and I were first introduced to Promises2Kids in 2013, when we were invited as guests at the concert gala. What was most compelling was listening to the student who spoke to the crowd. We listened as one foster youth told a crowd of strangers how the mother he knew was murdered, how he and his siblings were separated, and tragically their lives were ripped apart.

Then came his message about Promises2Kids– how the services and support he and his siblings were eventually able to receive changed their lives. We were inspired by his story– how he was able to go to college, get a job and help support his younger siblings, how later his sibling was able to get a college education as well. This was more than a story, this was life changing for this young man. This was life changing for me and my husband as well. We have two children who have always had a roof over their heads, loving and supportive parents, and the benefit of attending higher education to achieve not just a degree but an opportunity to be a productive part of society.

As a parent, we have been fortunate enough to provide our kids with their every need. On the other hand, foster youth experience things that most of us couldn’t fathom, yet they try so hard to overcome the obstacles that have been thrown at them. Foster youth live completely different lives than the general population and are an unfortunate result of a system that fails them.

I am so passionate about Promises2Kids because every child deserves a lifetime! Every child deserves an opportunity to flourish, grow, and to have joy in their lives! I am personally involved because I want to ensure that these children have the best opportunity for success! In just two years as a board member, I have had the opportunity to meet, as well as hear, numerous success stories that come from Promises2Kids Guardian Scholars and Camp Connect attendees!

Merrilee Neal