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Arizona’s Heart & Sol: nonprofit makes connections for children in foster care

Published: Nov. 11, 2021 at 7:18 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Every week, KOLD News 13 is teaming up with Casino del Sol, rewarding people who are making a difference in our community.

This week’s Heart and Sol recipient is a new nonprofit that is making a big difference in the lives of foster children in Arizona.

“I was adopted when I was ten years old from Korea and I spent a year of my life in an orphanage. Before that I was dealing with a lot of issues that foster kids have to deal with, and so because of that personal experience, I know what it’s like to be in their shoes,” Mea Fajardo said.

Nonprofit FostAdopt Connections was founded by Fajardo. She’s worked in child welfare for the last 15 years. In her experience, she noticed gaps that needed to be filled for kids in the foster care system. Right now, the nonprofit is working with kids in group homes.

“A typical foster group home has ten kids in the home that a staff rotates to be able to care for and a lot of times, because of the situation they are in, they don’t have a one-on-one caregiver,” she said.

FostAdopt Connections is still in its beginning stages, but so far, they’ve been able to help more than a thousand children. They help connect the kids to jobs and other opportunities. They also provide basic necessities like reusable waters bottles, backpacks, and toys.

“The personal biggest benefit is the personal connections I have with these kids. They are so amazing. They are hurt and they have issues for sure, but they long for connection with people,” Fajardo said.

Emily Weeks, who is one of six regular volunteers, has adopted and fostered children, most recently during the pandemic. She says, while COVID had an effect on everyone, it severely impacted kids in foster care.

“For these kids living in group homes, they have nothing. They don’t leave. Any existing visits they had with family members no longer existed,” Weeks said.

She says, even something that seems small, can make a big difference in a child’s life.

“When a child or teenager looks at you and says, ‘I’m a screw up. I’ve mad mistakes. Nobody wants me.’ And then after spending time with them, they’re like, ‘well maybe I can graduate high school, maybe I can get a job, maybe I am worth it.’ And it’s like, well you are, but sometimes just hearing that and being a part of that realization for them even for a brief moment, makes it all worth it,” she explained.

There are many ways you can help out FostAdopt Connections, whether it’s through volunteering or donating. You can find more information here.

If you know someone who is Arizona’s Heart and Sol, nominate them here.

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