Santa Rosa, CA – July 10, 2019 – Santa Rosa, CA -- To help current and former Sonoma County foster youth achieve their academic potential and build better futures,The Valley of the Moon Children’s Foundationwill award its annual college and trade school scholarships on Monday, July 29,at a lunch at the Wild Oak Saddle Club, Santa Rosa. The private, all-volunteer non-profit raised more than $150,000 this year to support the educational dreams of 48 youth and young adults who once faced abuse, neglect or abandonment at home.
“We have seen former foster youth graduate from trade schools, junior college, four-year universities and beyond,” says the Foundation’s President of the Board of Directors Laura Colgate. “It shows that if you invest in a young person’s future, the value returned is priceless.” Over 13 years, the Foundation has awarded 260 scholarships of $1500 to $10,000 totaling $894,500.
"The generous community donations to the scholarship program allow foster youth to achieve in their educational goals and become happier and healthier adults," says Family Youth and Children’s Services Division Director Nick Honey, who leads the County of Sonoma foster care and child protection programs.
One former foster youth will use her 2019 grant to launch her Ph.D. work in August at Arizona State University in Justice Studies. Miriam Araya was brought into foster care at age 13 after experiencing physical and other abuse. She spent time with her four sisters and brothers at the County’s emergency shelter for foster youth, the Valley of the Moon Children’s Home.
The volunteer officers of the Foundation’s Board of Directors are President Laura Colgate; Vice President Kevin Destruel, owner of Mead Clark Lumber; Secretary Patricia Bradley and Treasurer David P. Dillwood, CPA, Dillwood, Burkel & Millar LLP. They guide the Foundation’s efforts to prevent child abuse in Sonoma County and to support the healing and educational programs at Valley of the Moon Children’s Home, help emancipated foster youth through education, housing and employment guidance and improve the lives of current foster children and community foster parents.
One of the Foundation’s vital early projects in partnership with the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors and the Sonoma County Human Services Department was to raise more than $11 million to build the region’s only 24-hour emergency shelter for foster children, the Valley of the Moon Children’s Home (VMCH). Children moved into the housing portion of the Kenwood facility in 2005.
Along with the scholarship programs, the Foundation has supported the creation of additional buildings and outdoor play and learning spaces at VMCH. In 2011, the Foundation helped fund the opening of the on-site, VMCH Dental Health Program. Research showed the high number of children who enter foster care with undiagnosed and under-treated acute dental issues. The program is projected to serve its 1000th child this year.
The Foundation also continues to help VMCH develop as a therapeutic and educational program for foster children coping with the trauma of abuse and neglect. Its members and donors help fund on-site music and garden programs led by staff and community volunteers. The Foundation also recruits community volunteers to help children at VMCH with homework, recreation, exercise and art activities.
Community members can find out how to make a tax-deductible donation to support Sonoma County foster children by visiting vomcf.org or to volunteer at VMCH by calling (707) 565-6350.