Sanctuary Palm Springs Newsletter
From our Executive Director:
Having just completed my first six months as executive director of Sanctuary Palm Springs, I’ve been reflecting on our accomplishments, some of which I'd like to share with you in order to give you an idea of where we are, where we plan to go, and what makes Sanctuary Palm Springs such a unique and vital resource for LGBTQ youth in extended foster care. It’s been a thrilling six months and I’m looking forward to continuing to work with our board of directors, staff, volunteers, and donors in order to ensure the health and wellbeing of our residents.
First off, a bit about whom we serve: LGBTQ youth enter the foster care system for many of the same reasons as other children—they suffer extreme abuse and neglect, (usually not, but sometimes directly related to their sexual orientation or gender identity), most often inflicted by their families. Many of our youth entered foster care as very young children, some as young as two or three years old.
Once in the system, we know that LGBTQ foster youth, who research has shown represent 1 in 5 of all foster children, often experience a dearth of love and acceptance, compounding the traumas they’ve already suffered. They experience more disruptions in their placements, more group homes rather than family placements, and remain in foster care longer than non-LGBTQ youth.
When I worked as the national director of LGBTQ services with the Child Welfare League of America I toured the country holding listening sessions with LGBTQ foster youth in order to hear their stories directly from them. Among the many sentiments expressed during these forums were statements like, “I got jumped by a bunch of guys in my group home and when I told the director he said, ‘Well, if you weren’t a faggot they wouldn’t beat you up’,” “All my foster mom would do is taunt me,” and “My foster family took away my clothes, called me a ‘dyke,’ and tried to remake me” among many others. (More about the experiences of LGBTQ foster youth can be found in
Out of the Margins: A Report Highlighting the Experiences of LGBTQ Youth in Care
, CWLA Press, 2006.)
Sanctuary Palm Springs was created to provide LGBTQ foster youth a safe place to live and the support they need in order to transition to a happy, healthy, and productive adulthood.
In our first year of operations in our beautiful new house we have moved into new administrative offices occupied by myself, our incredible Office Manager Charles and part-time database administrator Rick; held some very fun fundraising and donor-appreciation events; increased the number of residents we serve, and begun a Federally funded training program around the state to educate child welfare social workers and juvenile justice probation officers about the needs of LGBTQ youth who are preparing to age out of the foster care system.
I want to tell you a story about one of our newest residents, Melissa. (Her name has been changed to protect her privacy.) As Melissa prepared to age out of the foster care system she did not have anywhere safe to land. Although she might have been able to find housing, she did not have the support of caring adults who could help her transition to a productive adulthood. Within her first two weeks with us Melissa found a job working in a local fast food restaurant. She also let us know that she has a real interest in becoming a make-up artist, aesthetician, or plastic surgeon. We have connected her with a former beauty-school teacher who will help her figure out the best strategies to realize her professional goals. (Thanks Gage!) And the nice folks at the Eighteen/Eight salon have met with her and are helping her to pursue aesthetician training.
This is the kind of real difference your support is making in the lives of our youth!
See below for information on two recent initiatives we have put in place to help us better support our residents:
In addition to our direct work with our residents, we have expanded and diversified our staff and board of directors (now led by our new Board Chair, Barry McCabe), and are in the process of revamping our website. And we’re thrilled to announce that Ellen Wolf, who played a key role in helping to create and launch Sanctuary Palm Springs, has rejoined the agency in the capacity of Development Consultant in order to help us maintain and expand our ever-growing roster of generous supporters.
We look forward to keeping you informed about our work with our amazing residents through these quarterly newsletters, our website, and through social media. I know I speak for the board of directors and staff of Sanctuary Palm Springs when I say how very humbled and grateful we are to enjoy such strong support from our Palm Springs friends, neighbors, and communities.
All the best,
Rob Woronoff, MS
Sanctuary Palm Springs