A remote setting and virtual setup didn’t stop Windward’s Middle Service Learning from holding their first event of the year. On October 1, 50 7th and 8th Grade families came together virtually to learn about the GO Campaign, a nonprofit organization that supports children in need in Los Angeles and around the world through collaborations with other nonprofits. Regina Katz, the Director of Development at GO, kicked things off by introducing participants to Stepping Forward LA, a local organization whose programming assists foster youths and young adults (ages 14-25) as they navigate their transition into adulthood. Beth Ryan, program director for Stepping Forward LA, provided additional insights into the work of the organization and the challenges foster youth face as they age out of the system.
As part of the presentation, a former foster youth provided a unique and powerful first-hand account about his experiences and the ways in which he benefited from the resources that Stepping Forward LA provides. He also explained how we can further engage and make a difference. Beth shared that foster youths benefit greatly from blankets, which not only provide warmth but which also provide a sense of tangible ownership. Windward families had the opportunity to meet new families or catch up with friends via breakout rooms while making blankets with materials provided ahead of time; Stepping Forward LA will distribute the blankets to young mothers and their babies in the coming weeks. Eric Mandel, Division Director of Middle School, said “Families stayed for quite some time, and it really helps to provide opportunities for connection like these.”
Parent Julia Oh said of the experience, “It warmed our hearts to learn about all of the amazing things that GO Campaign and Stepping Forward LA are doing. We were grateful to be able to participate and to contribute in a small way. The blanket making was not only fun, but also strangely cathartic.”
Regina added, “We are incredibly grateful to Windward School and its amazing 7th and 8th Grade families for coming together to make a direct and positive impact on foster youth here in Los Angeles! The blankets you’re making will put smiles on their faces and help them feel connected at a time when we all feel so isolated. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
The next Middle School Service Learning event will take place on December 9. Please stay tuned for more details! In the meantime, please contact Robin Pickett or Ashley Goodman with any questions.