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News2020-03-20T20:27:11+00:00

Meet Ikemba, a Guardian Scholar on the Path to Success

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July 20th, 2020|

At Home With Kevin and Raegan Prior – Longtime supporters of Promises2Kids

Ranch and Coast Magazine
April 5, 2020

For Kevin and Raegan Prior, home is especially meaningful. Not only is it a retreat from busy lives filled with family, a successful business (Kevin is president and CEO of ICW Group Insurance), and frequent travel, it has informed their philanthropy. They are passionate, longtime supporters of Promises2Kids, the nonprofit “creating a brighter future for foster children” who have been removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect.

Read full article online here
April 7th, 2020|

Celebrating Promises2Kids Mentors

San Diego Magazine
Feb 18, 2020

Promises2Kids recently recognized its volunteer mentors who work to provide local foster kids and young adults with guidance and support. The event this January at Balboa Park was held in conjunction with National Mentoring Month. Foster youth and their mentors spent the afternoon exploring the park’s monuments, taking photos, and making memories.

Read online here

February 18th, 2020|

Local couple bolsters program for current and former foster youth

Rancho Santa Fe Review
By Michael J. Williams
Dec. 5, 2019 12:17 PM

Carmel Valley resident Lisa Corbosiero’s company Hi Tech Honeycomb is located down the street in Kearny Mesa from the Polinsky Children’s Center.

One day while at work, she saw a teenager running away from the emergency shelter and trying to hide himself in the company’s building.

Corbosiero, who has two sons, took it upon herself to approach the 13-year-old boy to find out why he was fleeing.

“I was able to talk him into going back to the Polinsky Center and we walked over there together,” she said. “It was a good feeling knowing that I could reassure him he was in a safe place and then being able to escort him back, and he was okay with that.”

That good feeling led Corbosiero and her husband Michael to get involved in Promises2Kids, a nonprofit that provides assistance, opportunities and guidance to more than 3,000 current and former foster children in this county. Information on the group can be viewed at promises2kids.org.

“Lisa opened my eyes to Promises2Kids,” said Michael Corbosiero during a recent interview with the couple at a Carmel Valley coffee shop.

Lisa, whose family is from Brazil, now serves as a director on the organization’s board while she continues to function as owner and operator of Hi Tech Honeycomb.

Offering a helping hand was a natural for Michael, a Boston native who relocated to the San Diego area in the early 1990s.

He said he had worked with at-risk youth while he was in college in Florida. After coming to San Diego, Lisa introduced him to Voices for Children, with whom she started volunteering about 20 years ago, and eventually Promises2Kids.

In Promises2Kids, Michael is participating in the Guardian Scholar program, in which volunteers serve as mentors to former foster children after they are no longer minors and leave their surrogate families.

“What happens is their 18th birthday comes around and they are basically out the door. There’s no more support for them,” said Corbosiero, who works in commercial real estate and as a part-time ski instructor.

Many of the ex-foster children become homeless and suffer from psychological issues, he said.

Through the guardian program, Michael is mentoring a 20-year-old SDSU student who is also caring for an infant and has a fiancée.

“He’s an unbelievable, well-spoken kid, a wonderful kid, but he has never had somebody to bounce ideas off of,” Corbosiero said. “He might think it’s a great idea, where I’m like (saying), ‘Let’s talk through this potential decision you’re about to make.’”

As an example, Corbosiero said, he talked the young man out of buying an expensive car with a high-interest loan and acquiring one that he can better afford under the circumstances.

“I’m passionate about this mentoring program,” he said. “We’re there to guide them through the decision-making process. We’re there as a resource to the kids who want help.”

In addition to working with youth, the Corbosieros earlier this year were the chairman and chairwoman for this year’s version of the annual Fore Kids Golf Tournament, which raises thousands of dollars to support Promises2Kids activities.

This year’s tournament was held Oct. 15 at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar’s golf course, where the Corbosieros are members.

While organizing the tournament and engaging in the other volunteer activities with Promises2Kids take time and energy, Lisa Corbosiero said the effort is rewarding for the good it accomplishes.

It also provides another example for their sons, Nicholas, who is in college, and Lucas, a high school senior. Throughout their childhood, Corbosiero said, she and Michael sought to involve them in charity, including working at an orphanage in Brazil and donating soccer equipment to it..

“I want to show them how fortunate we are,” she said. “In Carmel Valley, we live in a bubble. We’ve been able to provide opportunities for them to see that there is another world out there.

“There’s a lot of beautiful places out there, but there are lot of bad places, too. If we can open their eyes and get them to make a difference — that has always resonated with myself and Michael, too.”

Read online here

December 5th, 2019|

Head of nonprofit has spent her career in service to foster children

The San Diego Union Tribune  April 6, 2019

By Lisa Deaderick

Photo by K.C. Alfred

Tonya Torosian began working with children in foster care as a social worker in Chicago, and it was there that her passion for foster children began.

“I had never heard of foster care, and thankfully, I have a loving and supportive family, so seeing children being abused was shocking to me,” she recalled. “Even more disturbing was learning and seeing firsthand that the foster care system was equally abusive for many children. The majority of my caseload had a long history of systemic abuse and felt hopeless and unprotected.”

While that was more than 20 years ago and there have been significant improvements in supporting children who are in foster care, those kids from her first job compelled her to make a career out of supporting and helping children in the system. Over the years, she’s worked as a social worker and in the nonprofit sector to create programs and policies to improve the lives of kids in various states.

Torosian, 48, lives in the Talmadge neighborhood of San Diego with her wife, Karla, and their 2-year-old son, and is the CEO of Promises2Kids, a nonprofit that provides programs, services and funding to support current and former foster youth. She took some time to talk about the organization and her work with them, and her love for a specific decade of music.

Q: Tell us about Promises2Kids.
A: Promises2Kids was originally founded in 1981 as the Child Abuse Prevention Foundation. Our original project was to raise the $12 million to build the A.B. and Jessie Polinksy Children’s Center, San Diego County’s emergency shelter for abused and neglected children. We have since raised $7 million to help build San Pasqual Academy (a residential education program for foster teens), and now, are providing direct services and programs toward our mission to create a brighter future for foster children.

Q: How were you introduced to Promises2Kids?
A: I was working at another local foster care agency … and I was familiar with Promises2Kids’ work as they were then, and still are, a leader in the community at the forefront of the needs of children in the child welfare system. I admired the executive director and the committed donors who were affiliated with Promises2Kids and aspired to work for them for a few years prior to my coming over.

Q: Why did you want to work with them?
A: Promises2Kids is well known and highly respected for the work it does with San Diego’s foster children. What set it apart from others was the admiration I have for the founders and the passion that drives them and everyone working here; it really is all about the children. No decision is made without them being at the center of it all. We do not take the easy way out; if something needs to be improved upon for foster children, we will take it on.

What I love about Talmadge …

It is a very diverse community, and we have many fun events with our neighbors. There are food truck nights, holiday parades and a fall festival. It reminds me of my hometown of Madison, Wis.

Q: While serving as CEO, what’s your goal for the organization?
A: My goal is to be able to provide support to every foster youth in our community that wants and needs it. For example, we currently turn away half of the foster youth who apply for our Guardian Scholars program, and there are many more who have submitted an application. This is an educational support program that provides scholarships, mentoring, case management, and other support to former foster youth as they leave care and pursue vocational training, community college, or a university education. … Every child should have this opportunity for success. My vision is to serve every child as they leave foster care. We are close to this, currently serving 175 youth, but there are over 200 more youth who will age out each year. So, doubling our program would more than meet the need, would eliminate the problem of not having access to education, and ultimately be one of the first cities in the U.S. to guarantee every foster child a pathway to education. This is possible.

Q: Your website says that your organization provides tools and guidance to foster youth to help address the circumstances that led them to foster care, help overcome issues from their pasts, and become healthy and successful adults. What are some of these tools that are provided?
A: The design of our programs is to create healthy relationships that the child can rely on. That is one of the most critical tools you can have in life, the support system that you can draw upon in good times and in bad for support. We teach youth that they can trust others, we provide peer mentors that can show them that they were in their shoes, and now, they have “made it.”

Q: How are you helping them address the issues that put them in foster care and become happy and health adults?
A: Through our therapeutic programs like peer mentoring, pet therapy, and our trauma-informed treatment in our case management and mentoring. We start with services provided to children at the Polinsky Children’s Center with emergency shelter. In conjunction with the Helen Woodward Animal Center, we provide animal therapy to help the children heal from their trauma. We also work with Rady Children’s Hospital to ensure that foster children under the age of 6 receive developmental services to ensure they are on track and ready to learn. We also know that connection to family is one of the most important things in life, and our Camp Connect program provides monthly opportunities for the 49 percent of brothers and sisters who are not living together in foster care, the opportunity to spend quality time together. And lastly, through our Guardian Scholars program.

Q: How has your approach to serving children evolved over your years of working with and for them?
A: I will always believe that foster children deserve and need the same opportunities in life as I and others had growing up. However, my response to this belief has changed along with the advances and changes in the foster care system itself. For example, foster care used to just end at age 18, and youth literally were leaving care with a trash bag of their belongings, often with nowhere to go. Now, legislation changed to allow extended foster care until the age of 21. This gives the youth more time to prepare for the transition to adulthood.

We have adjusted the way we provide services to the youth who are now adults, but still in need of support. Mentoring relationships change, staff interactions shift, and we need to empower the young adult to be in charge of their lives, but able to ask for and receive support.

Times change and what seemed more important earlier on was advising and steering foster youth to college as the best and only option for success. Now, I feel we understand that college is not the only option for a strong career. We know that there are so many options: vocational training, certificate programs, community college and attending a university. Each one matches specific career goals and interests, and I think a shift in what we emphasize to youth should change.

Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
A: When trying to solve a problem, a “no” is simply a “not now.” You should not give up, just consider other options, adjust as needed, and realize that timing may be the problem. Be patient, real change takes time.

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to find out about you?
A: I love ‘90s hip-hop and rap. When I have a grant or other important things to write, I turn it on and knock it out!

Q: Describe your ideal San Diego weekend.
A: At the beach all day with my family! Then, we get a babysitter and head out to a great dinner at a new restaurant with friends. I am a foodie.

October 11th, 2019|

Co. Opens Location and Opens Its Heart With Donation

San Diego Business Journal February 12, 2018

By Stephanie R. Glidden

Arhaus LLC, a nationwide home furnishings company,  donated $16,921 to Promises2Kids. Arhaus selected Promises2Kids as its charity of choice to receive 10 percent of sales during its recent grand opening event at Westfield UTC.

Promises2Kids, a San Diego-based nonprofit with a focus on foster care and children's welfare, provides more than 3,000 current and former foster youth in San Diego County with the tools, opportunities, and guidance they need to address the circumstances that brought them into foster care, overcome the difficulties of their past, and grow into healthy, happy and successful adults.

Tonya Torosian, CEO of Promises2Kids thanked Arhaus and said: "It is because of companies like Arhaus and charitable members in our community that we can continue offering programs that benefit current and former foster youth in San Diego County." 

February 22nd, 2018|

Pacific Beach family dedicates business to helping Promises2Kids

San Diego Community Newspaper Group February 8, 2018

By Victoria Davis

While she identifies first and foremost as a mother, others see Carrie Miller as a one-of-a-kind philanthropist. Seven years ago, in honor of her oldest daughter Evelyn’s first birthday, Miller and her husband Scott made a donation to Promises2Kids, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the needs of abused children in foster care. 

But this wasn’t Miller’s first introduction to the nonprofit. A few months after Evelyn’s birth, Miller was looking for ways to get out of the house. While on the Volunteer San Diego website, she found an opportunity for reading to toddlers. Miller still gets emotional remembering her first time walking into the A. B. and Jessie Polinsky Children’s Center. 


“I remember being in this big room with a bunch of people and the center showed us this introduction video of Norma Hirsh talking about how there used to be a 24-hour hotline for abused animals, but there wasn’t a 24-hour hotline for abused children,” said Miller. 

“As the video went along, I was completely gutted, especially as a new mother racing with hormones. There’s absolutely no words to describe the horrific things these kids go through.”

Norma Hirsh founded The Child Abuse Prevention Foundation in 1981 to raise community awareness of child abuse in San Diego. In 1994, the children from the run-down, and grossly overpopulated, Hillcrest Receiving Home were relocated to the newly established Polinsky Center, which today can house up to 200 foster kids. Fifteen years later, The Child Abuse Prevention Foundation became Promises2Kids.

“We’ve definitely grown and evolved,” said Tonya Torosian, CEO of Promises2Kids. “We focus less on the prevention of child abuse through the Palinsky Center and really look at what we can do to support these kids once they’re in care. There’s something special about having local San Diegans funding local kids.”

Whether they’re at the center, with a foster family or in a group home, Promises2Kids looks for gaps in the foster care system and how they can best fill those voids. After watching the video and spending the remainder of her day at the center, Miller decided she needed to be a part of it all. 

“I remember sitting towards the back just ugly crying and I looked around and felt surrounded by a bunch of people ugly crying with me,” said Miller. “I remember thinking, ‘I need to be a part of this.’”

Now, Miller and her husband are both active volunteers and sponsors for Promises2Kids. Scott is a mentor in P2K’s Guardian Scholars program, which provides former foster youth with a partial financial scholarship, along with mentoring support, to assist them in excelling in higher education. But Miller herself is unique in her giving.

“When I started my real estate business, I figured the best thing I could do was to start giving money,” said Miller. “For every real estate transaction that I close, I give back a 10 percent donation to Promises2Kids. It’s now part of my business plan.”


Torosian added: “I was really shocked. You just don’t see that. People might donate personally, but to embed it into your business … that’s something amazing.”

Miller’s donations are made on behalf of her clients and are unrestricted, allowing Promises2Kids to direct the funds to whichever division they think needs it most.


“We do a big lottery check outside the client’s house and we post it up on social media,” said Miller. “It’s pretty cool. I now have this platform to sit with every client and potential client I know and share the story of Promises2Kids.”

Miller’s two daughters also made a donation of $6 last month to Promises2Kids. Miller said it was a “proud mom moment.”

“I tell my girls, ‘Think about the thing that breaks your heart, what makes you feel sad. That’s where you should give,’” said Miller.

 

February 22nd, 2018|

A Brighter Future

Giving Back Magazine  February 2018 Issue

Jolene and Owen Perry hosted a winemaker dinner in North County to benefit Promises2Kids. Guests enjoyed culinary delights and tasting various wines throughout an elegant evening. For over 35 years, Promises2Kids has responded to the needs of foster children and provided support to children removed from their home due to abuse and neglect. 

February 22nd, 2018|

San Diego non-profit brings together former foster children and mentors

 

Encinitas Advocate February 1, 2018

Rancho Santa Fe Review February 8, 2018

By Brittany Woolsey 

For 24-year-old Maria, pairing up with a mentor through Promises2Kids wasn't just meeting a requirement to receive a college scholarship. It was a chance to meet a woman who she would soon think of as a mother figure.

Maria, who lives in Oceanside and preferred not to disclose her last name, met Jeannine Watkins of Olivenhain three years ago after Maria was accepted for the Guardian Scholars scholarship through Promises2Kids, a San Diego-based nonprofit that offers support for current and former foster youth.

"I had applied for scholarships before and gotten money, but this one had a whole different area to it that I wasn't expecting to be very valuable to me," said Maria, who entered the foster care system when she was about 4 and became independent at the age of 17. "Being a foster kid, I knew how it was to receive a mentor but then I also know, working with foster youth, how they receive mentors as well. For me, it turned out to be the best thing."

Maria and Jeannine said it took them about six months before they really got to know each other and found out they could learn from one another.

While the scholarship only requires the two women to meet about once a month, the pair said they tend to meet weekly for dinners, coffee dates and other events.

"It doesn't even feel like a requirement anymore," Maria said. "It's just this relationship we have."

Watkins, a former stay-at-home mother, said she originally signed up to be a mentor after experiencing empty nest syndrome and a desire to help others.

She never pictured that Maria could also help her.

"Originally, I thought it was more me giving and me helping," Watkins said. "I also didn't realize how much she gives back to me. She's taught me a lot just in the way she lives her life and is able to go straight ahead with obstacles constantly jumping at her right and left. I just admire that so much."

Likewise, Maria said Watkins has taught her a "whole new kind of love" and thinks of her as the mother she never had.

Maria, a senior at UC San Diego, who is studying biochemistry and cell biology, said that while in the foster care system, she was forced into situations where she was expected to care for her foster parents, even if they did not show her affection.

She said Watkins is there for her in her most challenging moments, both academically and personally. She's even been able to intern with Watkins' husband and son at their science-related jobs.

"With [Jeannine and I], I have someone who genuinely wants to spend time with me and cares about me," Maria said. "With the foster care system, generally people get paid to do it. Jeannine is going into this possibly losing time to see and know me. It's just all around good."

Because Maria graduates in June, her relationship with Watkins officially ends in about four months, at least on paper. However, the pair considers their friendship a "forever deal," as Maria described it.

Watkins encourages anyone who is thinking about volunteering and giving back to look into helping foster youth through Promises2Kids.

"I'd tell anybody that's even thinking about becoming a mentor that it can change their life immensely and change the life of another person," she said. "It's just a fantastic opportunity, and I think anyone should do it if they're interested."

 

 

February 22nd, 2018|

Promises2Kids Promotes Emily Wilson Hassig

San Diego Metro Magazine January 24, 2018

Promises2Kids announced the promotion of Emily Wilson Hassig to chief development officer.

Hassig comes to the organization with more than eight years of development experience and has been serving as the director of major gifts for Promises. Prior to joining Promises2Kids, Hassig oversaw fundraising initiatives at two Scripps Health hospitals — Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas and Scripps Mercy Hospital.

 

February 22nd, 2018|

Promises2Kids party salutes foster youth and mentors

La Jolla Light / Rancho Sante Fe Review January 11, 2018

Annie Navarra hosted the annual Promises2Kids Holiday Soiree on Dec.17 at her La Jolla home. Promises2Kids Guardian Scholars and their mentors were the guests of honor. ID Analytics sponsored the event. The Guardian Scholars program encourages foster youth to pursue highter education through community college, trade school or a university degree by providing them with a partial financial scholarship along with mentoring support to assist them in excelling in a higher education setting. More than 300 former foster youth have received scholarships, and more than 90 percent of them will be first-generation graduates. Learn more at promises2kids.org. 

February 22nd, 2018|

Promises2Kids Dinner Benefit

Ranch & Coast Magazine January 2018

Owen and Jolene Perry hosted a dinner at their Rancho Santa Fe home to benefit Promises2Kids. Guests were treated to cuisine by Pamplemousse Grille paired with wines by winemakers Morlet and Paul Otto. Promises2Kids provides more than 3,000 foster youth in San Diego County with the tools, opportunities, and guidance they need to overcome the difficulties of their past, and grow into healthy and successful adults.

February 21st, 2018|

‘Super Tasty’ 5K benefit walk returns to Solana Beach

Del Mar Times / Solana Beach Sun   August 18, 2014

At least 20 restaurants are expected to join the third annual Super Tasty 5K, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 6 in Solana Beach. Once again, the event is a fundraiser for Promises2Kids, a San Diego nonprofit working for the benefit of children in foster care.

Nichole Peterson, executive Director of the Solana Beach Chamber of Commerce, helps plan the event with organizers of the Giro di San Diego Gran Fondo, a two-day celebration of cycling, held on Sept. 6 and 7 at Fletcher Cove in Solana Beach. Participating restaurants include Carruth Cellars, Crush, Juicer’s, The Curious Fork, Wild Note Café, and others.

“We’re always trying to help bring business to Solana Beach,” she explains. “Through the Super Tasty 5K, we get to showcase the unique restaurants here by providing a sampling of what each has to offer.”

Giro organizer Carrie Panek, looking to enhance the fun of the “world’s toughest gourmet walk,” conducts a raffle for all participants and awards prizes to individuals and teams in two categories. “It’s a non-competitive 5K, but we like to keep it interesting,” says Panek. “There are awards for the top fundraising team, best individual costume, and best team theme costume.

“Fundraising is important to us, so we encourage people to register today, form a fundraising team, and start soliciting donations.”

The Giro di San Diego Gran Fondo San Diego is a two-day event celebrating cycling, food and San Diego’s North Coast. It features three mass-start road cycling routes, two mountain bike routes, a two-day Bike & Fitness Expo, and the Solana Beach Super Tasty 5K Restaurant Walk. For information or to register, visit www.girodisandiego.com.

Promises2Kids, founded in 1981 and formerly known as the Child Abuse PreventionFoundation, assists approximately 5,000 foster children per year through a range of programs including The Polinsky Center, Camp Connect, Guardian Scholars, and Foster Funds.

Tonya Torosian, chief executive officer of Promises2Kids, applauds the efforts of Panek and the Solana Beach Chamber of Commerce, saying, “There are over 3,000 children in foster care in our county. I am thrilled to partner again with the Super Tasty 5K to raise awareness and support for them.”

The Giro di San Diego Gran Fondo will donate $5 of every registration, along with100 percent of all online donations and additional funds raised by participants, to Promises2Kids.

Until Aug. 23, 2014, registration for the Super Tasty 5K is $35 for adults and $20 for kids. Family packages are available for $90 and group registration is $35 per member. Included in registration are: an event T-shirt, food passport, and samples from each participating restaurant.

Find information and a link to registration for the Super Tasty 5K and other Giro di San Diego events at www.SuperTasty5k.com. For more about Promises2Kids, visit www.promises2kids.org.

August 19th, 2014|

Foster kids reunite with siblings at camp

UT_2014CampConnect

About 85 foster kids separated from their siblings had the opportunity to reconnect at a four day camp where they were able to participate in activities together. Sisters Rachel and Rosa scurry through an inflatable obstacle course together enjoying their time together. Christian Rodas

By J. Harry Jones5:56 p.m.Aug. 8, 2014  UT San Diego

JULIAN — Siblings separated by the county’s foster care system are being reunited this weekend at a four-day summer camp in the mountains near Julian.

About 85 kids are participating in Camp Connect, a joint venture between the county’s Child Welfare Services office and the nonprofit Promises2Kids, which raises the funds, organizes the events and provides the volunteers who make it all happen.

Like most summer camps, kids spend the day rock climbing, playing volleyball, horseback riding or goofing around in the swimming pool. But the experiences mean so much more, campers and officials said.

“I’m with somebody that I really love and … with people who love me,” said Stephany, a 14-year-old camper catching up with older sister Ruth on Friday. (Organizers said last names of campers couldn’t be released, by court order.)

County officials say they try hard to keep siblings in the foster system together, but for various reasons it’s sometimes not possible. Of the 3,100 foster children in the system about 500 don’t live together.

“For a lot of our kids they’ve already lost parents, neighbors, their school, and to then be separated from their siblings is devastating to them,” said Margo Fudge, the program director and adoptions manager for Child Welfare Services.

“There is research that shows that kids who remain connected to their siblings while in foster care have far better outcomes. They are more likely to stay in their placement, more likely to graduate, more likely to have higher self esteem and less likely to use drugs and be incarcerated.”

Ruth and Stephany may not know about the research, but they know camp is a good thing.

The sisters were separated six years ago. Ruth, who turned 18 on Friday, lives in La Mesa while Stephany lives in a group setting in Chula Vista.

“I feel free every time I come out,” Stephany said Friday as she waded in a swimming pool at the camp held at the Whispering Winds Catholic Conference Center off Harrison Grade Road.

“I don’t feel like there are a lot of things I have to worry about. I don’t feel as stressed. I feel relaxed and get to share my feeling with the person I trust the most in the whole world.”

“What I like best about the camp,” said Ruth “is getting the chance to influence her in a good way for a little while — to be an example to her because I can’t really do that while she’s in another place. I like coming up here because I get to spend time with Stephany and it’s fun. It’s a way to get away from all our problems at home and just have fun.”

Stephany said she especially likes getting to sleep with her older sister.

“It’s a way to get away from all the negativity going around with all the other kids,” she said. “My sister always protects me and looks out for me.”

Camp Connect is in its seventh year and is funded this year ($50,000) by donations the ICW Group and it’s CEO, Kevin Prior.

Prior said the camp “instills hope in the lives of foster children that need it most.”

“Due to circumstances beyond their control, these kids are separated from their siblings and miss out on a crucial nurturing foundation. For many of us at that age, our brother or sister is our other half, and I’m proud to help support Promises2Kids’ efforts to keep these vital unions alive.”

Promises2Kids, formerly known as the Child Abuse Prevention Foundation, has been making the camp happen from the beginning and also pays for other foster-sibling outings throughout the year such as trips to Sea World, the zoo and the beach.

The organization’s director of community outreach, Stephanie Trolinger, said about 95 volunteers are helping out at Camp Connect, which ends Sunday. Many come back year after year, as do the kids, and say they have developed relationships with the campers that both cherish.

Fudge, the camp director, said the importance of the program hit home before the first Camp Connect even began.

“The first year we did a send off in a parking lot and a boy came up to us and said he wasn’t getting on ‘the stupid bus. I’m not going to your stupid camp,’” Fudge recalled. “He said his brother wasn’t there and he wasn’t going to go if he wasn’t there. As it turned out his brother was just feet away from him and they didn’t recognize each other.”

“To us that was very powerful and we vowed that shouldn’t happen,” she added. “These kids have been through so much.”

Trolinger said the need and importance of the bonding is brought home every day.

“Just this morning one of the kids shared a connection with his volunteer,” she said. “He was asked what he would do today if he could do absolutely anything.

“He said ‘I would have doughnuts with my brothers.’”

For more information about Promises2Kids and how you can donate or volunteer go to www.promises2kids.org on the web or call Trolinger at (858) 427-1106.

 

August 8th, 2014|

Fashion show benefits Promises2Kids

MaggieBFashionShow_RSFReview_0052

View the photos from the event at Rancho Santa Fe Review

 

Locals feasted on food and fashion for a good cause April 17 at CUCINA enoteca in Del Mar.

The charitable luncheon and fashion show featured food and drinks from the California-inspired Italian restaurant and wine shop, as well as clothing and accessories from Maggie B and TRE Boutique, which are also located in Del Mar’s Flower Hill Promenade.

A portion of the event ticket sales, as well as funds from opportunity drawings, benefited Promises2Kids, a nonprofit organization that supports foster children and fights against child abuse and neglect in San Diego County.

Promises2Kids CEO Tonya Torosian said community support is “critical” for the organization.

“Not only does it help us with funding, but it helps us spread awareness about foster care,” Torosian said. “That’s the biggest advantage of things like today.”

More than 3,300 children are in the foster care system in San Diego County.

Promises2Kids supports these children through its four core programs: Polinsky Children’s Center, Camp Connect, Guardian Scholars and Foster Funds.

More than 2,000 children are cared for each year at Polinsky Children’s Center, an emergency shelter in San Diego for abused and neglected children. Promises2Kids, then known as the Child Abuse Prevention Foundation, raised $12 million to build the six-acre facility, which opened in 1994.

Camp Connect reunites siblings that have been separated in foster care. The four-day summer camp is held each year in the mountains of Julian. Following summer camp, Camp Connect hosts a variety of monthly day camps.

Promises2Kids’ Guardian Scholars program encourages foster youth to pursue higher education. The program provides participating students with academic scholarships, financial aid workshops, and college planning and mentoring support.

Lastly, Foster Funds provides support for foster children’s special requests such as sports equipment, music classes, class photos or college application fees.

“Our restaurants are places people come to dine and enjoy. We want to have a nice sense of community,” said Cate Hughes, marketing and wine director of CUCINA enoteca. “We’re a busy, successful restaurant, so we want to make sure part of our profits go back to the community and ensure that money spreads around in a positive way.”

This is the second time the restaurant has held a charity luncheon and fashion show.

CUCINA enoteca previously partnered with local boutiques to host a fashion show to benefit Center for Community Solutions, which operates the only rape crisis center in the city of San Diego along with a countywide 24-hour bilingual crisis helpline.

“It’s really important for us to work together,” Hughes said.

In addition to the luncheon and fashion show, CUCINA enoteca is supporting Promises2Kids through its monthly Sip and Support campaign. For every bottle of CUCINA private label wine or carafe of CUCINA tap wine sold throughout April, CUCINA will donate $1 to Promises2Kids.

CUCINA enoteca is located at 2730 Via de La Valle in Del Mar.

For more information about CUCINA enoteca, visit www.cucinaenoteca.com.

For more information about Promises2Kids, visit promises2kids.org.

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April 26th, 2014|

Guardian Scholars Mentors

Guardian Scholars mentor Valerie Wentworth, left, with Cal State San Marcos senior Sandra Ramirez at Valerie's Scripps Ranch home in February. They made homemade pizza that afternoon to celebrate Ramirez's 24th birthday.

Guardian Scholars mentor Valerie Wentworth, left, with Cal State San Marcos senior Sandra Ramirez at Valerie’s Scripps Ranch home in February. They made homemade pizza that afternoon to celebrate Ramirez’s 24th birthday. — Bill Wechter/U-T San Diego

Guardians help foster youth achieve college dreams

Mentors offer guidance, friendship to former foster children in college

By Pam Kragen.       March 10, 2014

SAN MARCOS — Sandra Ramirez knows all too well that the deck is stacked against former foster children who dream of going to college.

The 24-year-old senior at Cal State San Marcos is a rare success story in the foster care community, where less than 10 percent of former foster youth enroll in college and just 3 percent graduate.

Her brains and determination can be credited for her achievements, but she has another ace in the hole — Promises2Kids’ Guardian Scholars program, which provides scholarships, one-on-one mentoring and networking opportunities for young adults after they leave the safety net of the foster care system.

Ramirez is the oldest of six siblings who entered the foster care system 14 years ago. So far, she’s the only one to go to college.

She lived happily with a foster family in Ramona from ages 12 to 17, but when foster children turn 18, the monthly stipend provided by the county for their care ends. Ramirez didn’t want to be a burden to her foster parents, so when she graduated from high school, she moved out.

“It was very hard when I aged out,” she said. “I didn’t have much. My (foster) mom packed my clothes and I had $300 cash saved. I knew I wanted to go to college but I didn’t know how I’d do it.”

Promises2Kids, formerly known as the Child Abuse Prevention Foundation, was created in 1981 to serve foster youth. The San Diego nonprofit built the Polinsky Children’s Center (now run by the county, with the help of a $200,000 annual donation from Promises2Kids), and also operates a camp to reunite siblings separated by foster care. Guardian Scholars was added in 2001 to provide ex-foster kids a bridge to self-sufficiency.

“This program was created because we were seeing a horrible outcome for kids who grew up in foster care,” said Tonya Torosian, CEO of Promises2Kids. “We’ve had 200 children go through the program and we’ve had an 82 percent success rate of participants completing their degree. A number have earned law degrees and some have earned doctorates.”

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Valerie Wentworth, left, making pizza with Sandra Ramirez, 24, at Valerie’s Scripps Ranch home. At right are Valerie’s daughters Vanessa, 14, and Sabrina, 17. — Bill Wechter/U-T San Diego

When she graduated from Ramona High School six years ago, Ramirez moved in with her birth mother but she only lasted there a month because she found it an unhealthy and unsafe environment. She then tried living a few months with her birth father, but that wasn’t a good fit, either.

Fortunately, counselors at Palomar College helped her sign up for financial aid, awarded her a scholarship and got her a part-time job on campus so she could afford her own apartment. When she transferred to Cal State San Marcos two years ago, she discovered Guardian Scholars.

Each year, Ramirez and the other 74 scholars in the program can qualify for a $3,200 annual scholarship if they keep their grades up, work part-time and take part in group networking events, Torosian said. Because demand for the program far exceeds funding, three out of every four applicants are turned away.

“It has helped me a lot,” Ramirez said of the program. “I’ve gotten a lot out of the networking, but sometimes it’s something as simple as them sending me a birthday card. I didn’t have that growing up. Just knowing that they took the time to send me a handwritten letter telling me to do something nice for my birthday had a lot of impact for me personally.”

Two years ago, Guardian Scholars added a mentoring component where the students could forge one-on-one relationships with adult professionals for both career guidance and friendship. Many of the volunteer mentors came from Qualcomm Inc., which helped create the program, as well as volunteers from Sleep Train, Ashford University and the ICW Group.

One of the first mentors to sign on was Valerie Wentworth, a director of production management for Qualcomm. The Scripps Ranch single mom said she was interested in the program because her daughters — Sabrina, 17, and Vanessa, 14 — are increasingly independent and she has “a little more bandwidth” in her schedule.

Because she has children at home, Wentworth insisted on being paired with a mature, childless, drug- and drama-free female student, as well as someone who had a goofy, outgoing personality like herself. Ramirez proved to be the perfect match.

Ramirez has gotten career guidance from Wentworth, and she has also joined the family for activities like Christmas cookie-baking, family birthday parties, beach trips, Jacuzzi soaks and backcountry hikes. This past weekend, they celebrated Ramirez’s birthday with a pizza-making party.

Although the relationship has been enriching for them both, Wentworth said she takes no credit for Ramirez’s academic success.

“The reason Sandra is successful is her own resilience and her extremely good discipline,” Wentworth said. “She’s very good at setting boundaries to protect herself from the emotional roller coaster of life. Some people might have given up, but she just keeps trying.”

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Guardian Scholars mentor Valerie Wentworth, right, making pizza with Cal State San Marcos senior Sandra Ramirez, 24, at Valerie’s Scripps Ranch home in February. — Bill Wechter/U-T San Diego

Ramirez said she thinks of Wentworth, as well as her daughters, as “lifetime family and friends.”

“I can sit with her at dinner and talk and talk about anything and everything, like you would with a parent,” Ramirez said. “I view her as someone I can look up to and I can speak my mind to freely without being judged.”

Ramirez is majoring in management information systems and hopes to be a corporate computer analyst some day. Wentworth had the same minor in college and she is helping Ramirez look for internships, but she said she resists giving too much unsolicited advice. “What I mostly do is just model a lifestyle based on making good decisions,” Wentworth said. “I try to be a wise friend who is consistently there for her and who is positive.”

Mentors are required to commit their time to the scholars for one year, but Torosian said the experience has been so positive that almost all of the mentors, including Wentworth, renewed their commitments last year.

Ramirez will graduate from both Cal State San Marcos and the Guardian Scholars program in December, but Wentworth said their relationship will go on.

“I plan to keep Sandra until she’s sick of me,” she said. “My daughters look at her as a cousin and she’s part of our extended family. I am excited to have her as my young friend.”

March 15th, 2014|

Separated siblings reconnect at camp

fosterKids

SAN DIEGO — About 100 foster children went to camp in Julian Thursday morning to reconnect with their siblings, according to the county of San Diego.

The campers for one reason or another were unable to be placed in the same foster home as their brothers or sisters. The county, which runs the foster system, says it tries to keep siblings together, but can’t always do so.

“I’m personally the father of five adopted foster kids, and to see the smiles on these kids faces and the excitement that they’re going through, to really spend time at summer camp — I remember when I used to get to go to summer camp when I was a lot younger and all the great activities,” said Supervisor Dave Roberts at a send-off event in Kearny Mesa.

Greg Cox, the chairman of the Board of Supervisors, also attended the send-off.

The county said the campers will strengthen family bonds over four days by rock wall climbing, swimming, hiking, archery, scrapbooking, horseback riding, a talent show and dancing.

Camp Connect is funded by a partnership of the county Health and Human Services Agency, the nonprofit Promises2Kids and the Rivers of Hope Foundation – – the charity of Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and his wife, Tiffany.

August 3rd, 2013|

Foster siblings reconnect for camping retreat

San Diego, California News Station – KFMB Channel 8 – cbs8.com

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – About 100 foster youth went to camp in Julian Thursday morning to reconnect with their siblings, according to the county of San Diego.

The campers for one reason or another were unable to be placed in the same foster home as their brothers or sisters. The county, which runs the foster system, says it tries to keep siblings together, but can’t always do so.

“I’m personally the father of five adopted foster kids, and to see the smiles on these kids faces and the excitement that they’re going through, to really spend time at summer camp — I remember when I used to get to go to summer camp when I was a lot younger and all the great activities,” said Supervisor Dave Roberts at a send-off event in Kearny Mesa.

Greg Cox, the chairman of the Board of Supervisors, also attended the send-off.

The county said the campers will strengthen family bonds over four days by rock wall climbing, swimming, hiking, archery, scrapbooking, horseback riding, a talent show and dancing.

Camp Connect is funded by a partnership of the county Health and Human Services Agency, the nonprofit Promises2Kids and the Rivers of Hope Foundation — the charity of Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and his wife, Tiffany.

August 3rd, 2013|

Helping Kids… Promises2Kids Gala

6/28/2013 – UT SAN DIEGO – Appearing on the rock music scene in 1971, REO Speedwagon rapidly rose in popularity. The band, which has sold more than 40 million albums to date, performed a private concert recently in La Jolla.

It was a fundraiser for Promises2Kids (formerly the Child Abuse Prevention Foundation). P2K serves over 5,000 San Diego County children each year through such inspiring programs as Guardian Scholars, Camp Connect and the Polinsky Children’s Center. They let foster children know that somebody cares for them, believes in them, and will help them overcome any obstacle.

Titled “Dream On,” this was P2K’s fifth annual Summer Concert Gala hosted by honorary chair Joan Waitt at her gorgeous estate atop Mount Soledad. Sold out at 580 guests, it was also the biggest, netting $500,000 for the cause. It began with a sunset VIP reception overlooking the ocean, offering guests a meet-and-greet and photo opportunity with the band. The main party continued with cocktails and canapes on the expansive lawn, where tables were set for dinner. Read More…

Foster youth share inspirational stories of support provided by Promises2Kids

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50 students in Guardian Scholars program honored

6/26/13 – RANCHO SANTA FE REVIEWBy Kristina HouckHaving missed more than a year of elementary school between foster homes, Jennica Rebelez struggled academically as a child. With the help of Promises2Kids’ Guardian Scholars program, the 25-year-old is now pursuing her doctorate degree at UC Santa Barbara and training to be a school psychologist.

Promises2Kids’ Guardian Scholars program encourages former foster youth like Rebelez to pursue higher education. The program provides participating students with academic scholarships, financial aid workshops, and college planning and mentoring support. Read more…

June 26th, 2013|

“Good News” about San Diego non-profits and businesses doing good for your community

Promises2Kids benefit with REO Speedwagon.

6/24/13 – SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE : Monday Morning Good News – DREAM ON presented by Kevin Prior and ICW Group employees 2013 Summer Concert Gala was held on June 10 at the estate of Joan Waitt in La Jolla. Promises2Kids was the beneficiary of the $500,000 net proceeds from the evening. REO SPEEDWAGON performed a private benefit concert.  Promises2Kids conducts programs and services for San Diego’s foster youth at Polinsky Children’s Center, Camp Connect and Guardian Scholars. Some of the sponsors were Jeannie & Arthur Rivkin, Marc-Aaron Realtors, Gatto Pope & Walwick and SDG&E. Joan Waitt said, “It was an honor to be involved with this event and what it accomplished for our foster youth.” Read more…

June 24th, 2013|

Group helps foster youth consider STEM

6/19/2013 – UT SanDiego – A nonprofit group that works with foster youth has created a program to help high school students learn more about the fields of science, technology, engineering and math and consider future career opportunities. Developed under a partnership with Ashford University, which provided a $30,000 grant, the Promises2Kids organization developed the Junior Guardian Scholar program, which was kicked off in January.  Read more…

June 19th, 2013|

Nearly 90 Foster Siblings Reunited At Camp Connect

8/2/12 – KPBS.org – Imagine a weekend filled with swimming, rock climbing and horseback riding. Sounds like any kid’s dream vacation. However, this camp trip is even more special for foster children because they are reuniting with their brothers and sisters who are in different foster homes. Read more…

August 12th, 2012|

Protecting Kids by Having the Courage to Report Child Abuse

12/1/11  –  UT SAN DIEGO  –  There is no worse crime than someone hurting a child. In the same vein, knowing a child is being hurt and sitting silent out of fear, apathy or lack of knowing what to do is equally damaging to the child. Each year, there are more than 70,000 calls made to the San Diego County Child Abuse Hotline. Although this number is shocking, there are many more cases of abuse in our community than what is reported.  Read more…

December 1st, 2011|

Previous News Items

News Clip

4/28/11 Festival Makes Health Fun – Navy Dispatch
4/28/11 Doobie Brothers Coming to Rock Joan Waitt’s Estate – La Jolla Light
3/11/11 S. S. Mark Taper Foundation Awards Promises2Kids $30,000 – San Diego Daily Transcript 
1/31/11 Couples Kindness Gives Foster Kids Help – San Diego Business Journal 

 

2010 News Clips

12/18/10 Chargers Host 50 Kids SD Union Tribune
12/9/10 Gifts Sought for Foster Kids – La Jolla Light
12/3/10 New Toy Collection Launched – Rancho Santa Fe News 
12/2/10 Brighten the Holidays for Abused & Neglected Kids – Voice and Viewpoint
11/19/20  Give From Your Heart Gift Drive – Daily Transcript
11/11/2010 Volunteer Opportunities at Promises2Kids – UT
10/29/10 Escondido Charitable Foundation Awards Promises2Kids – San Diego Daily Transcript
10/22/2010 Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk Donates $10,000 to Polinsky – Asian Journal
10/2010 Promises2Kids Meets Back to School Drive Goal – Mission Valley News and Views
10/7/10 Help Pours in for Reunited Brothers UT
10/6/10 A House Becomes a Home – San Diego UT
10/2010 Promises2Kids Gala – Ranch and Coast Magazine
9/30/10 Man,20, is suspected of having sex with girl he met online – San Diego Union Tribune
9/24/10 Promises2Kids Meets Goal for Foster Youth – Daily Transcript
9/24/10 Promises Announces 4,000 items collected in Back to School Drive – Daily Transcript
9/2010 Women Who Move the City: Susan Golding – San Diego Magazine
9/2010 Women Who Move the City – Stephanie Ortega, Promises2Kids Guardian Scholars Manager San Diego Magazine
8/22/10 Foster Kids Reconnect with Siblings – North County Times
8/15/10 Officials Note an Uptick in Internet ‘Sextortion’ – San Diego Union Tribune 
8/6/10 Ex Foster Child Gets $30 million in Abuse Case – North County Times 
8/6/10 Woodward Animal Center Joins Promises2Kids Drive to Help Foster Youth – Coast News 
8/5/10 Groups Aiding Promises2Kids – La Jolla Light 
8/3/10 Greater Prosecution Vowed in Child Pornography
7/23/10 9th Annual Backpack Drive – San Diego Union Tribune
7/5/10 Sexting & Parents – San Diego Union Tribune
7/1/10 Concert a Hit for Promises – La Jolla Light
July     Promises2Kids – Helping Hurting Children Heal
6/11/10 Benatar Gives it Her Best Shot Del Mar Times
6/10/10 Benatar Rocks On!  La Jolla Village News
6/8/10 What’s Cooking: Pat Benatar Union Tribune
5/23/10 Mary’s House Helps Young Women Transition Out of Foster Care – Union Tribune
5/14/10 Abuso Infantil – El Latino 
5/9/10 Rapta a menor y la obliga a posar frente a una camara – Frontera
4/19/10 Rivers Foundation to Help Foster Kids – Union Tribune
2/3/10  Dramatic decrease Reported in Incidents of Child Abuse
 

2009 News Clips
12/25/09 Abused/Neglected Children Receive Holiday Gifts – San Diego Metropolitan
12/4/09 Sexting Consequences Barely Faze Young – North County Times
12/3/09 Toy Drive Under Way – La Jolla Light
11/28/09 Nonprofit Collecting Toys for Abused Children – SD Tribune
11/27/2009 Children’s Board Adds New Members – La Jolla Light
11/25/2009 Sentencian a pederasta de SD a 179 años de cárcel – El Mexicano
11/20/2009 Promises2Kids – Rancho Santa Fe News
11/20/2009 Promises2Kids – Coast News
11/12/2009 RSF Resident Joins Promises2Kids Board – Rancho Santa Fe Review
11/12/2009 Promises2Kids Hosts Chefs and Champions for Kids – Rancho Santa Fe Review

Clippings from the Promises Concert with Jewel:
San Diego Union Tribune

Rancho Santa Fe Review
Solana Beach Sun
Carmel Valley Leader
SignonSanDiego.com
DiscoverSD.com

Read about The Pinckney Family: A Military Foster Family

Video / Audio News Clips

Audio – KPBS Radio Interview, 5.5.10

Video – Foster Siblings Reunite at Camp Connect
Video – KFMB News Broadcast Free Prom Dresses, 4.10.10
Video – KNSD News Broadcast Free Prom Dresses, 4.10.10 (6pm)
Video – XETV News Broadcast Free Prom Dresses, 4.10.10 (10pm)
Video – KUSI News Broadcast Live Drive, 12.14.09
Video – KUSI News Broadcast Being-Fit Fitness, 12.11.09
Video – KUSI News Broadcast Union Bank, 12.10.09
Video – KUSI News Broadcast Securitas, 12.9.09
Video – KUSI News Broadcast 2009 Holiday Gift Drive – Part 1
Video – KUSI News Broadcast 2009 Holiday Gift Drive – Part 2
Video – KUSI News Broadcast Costumes Halloween, 10.27.09
Video – XETV News Broadcast Chefs and Champions, 10.24.09
Video – KUSI News Broadcast Chefs and Champions Promo, 10.19.09
Video – KUSI News Broadcast Vons Check Donation, 10.07.09
Video – KFMB News Broadcast 5.8.09
Video – KNSD News Broadcast 5.8.09

Video – KUSI News Broadcast 5.8.09

Video – XETV6 News Broadcast 5.8.09

Video – KUSI San Diego People – Susan Golding – Part 1

Video – KUSI San Diego People – Susan Golding – Part 2

Video – KUSI San Diego People – Susan Golding – Part 3

June 13th, 2010|
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