Area Businesses Give Back to Help Children in Foster Care

Crystal Moya participated in Child Advocates of Fort Bend’s WINGS Summer Lifeskills Program with some of the teens.

Crystal Moya participated in Child Advocates of Fort Bend’s WINGS Summer Lifeskills Program with some of the teens.

More than 12 area businesses took part in Child Advocates of Fort Bend’s WINGS Summer Lifeskills Program, which focuses on helping youth ages 14 and up prepare for independent living when they age out of the foster care system. What began as a pilot program more than 10 years ago is now seen as a model for other CASA programs across the state.

“WINGS focuses on helping youth in foster care acquire life skills, plan educational goals, develop a transitional living plan and create a support system of positive adults outside of the foster care system,” said Child Advocates of Fort Bend CASA Program Director Metoyer Martin. “Throughout the year, the youth participate in interactive, educational activities and trips where they learn critical life skills and explore post-secondary educational opportunities. By developing attainable goals and a plan for their future, the youth are empowering themselves for successful, independent lives.”

“I never imagined how many opportunities you have in life,” stated one foster child on a survey after participating in the program. Another remarked, “This program taught me life skills that I will need in the future.”

The Summer Lifeskills Program is a packed week of visits to different businesses to learn skills that are critical to independent living. Youth started the week at the Houston Alumni and Youth (HAY) Center and Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) Program to learn about benefits and resources available to them. They also visited the University of Houston, where they learned about college opportunities. Visits to AT&T, Nan Ya Plastics and Nalco offered information on career opportunities, resume writing and interviewing. Dr. Ivan Mefford and the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office talked to the teens about careers in the medical field and law enforcement. Visits to Wells Fargo and CarMax addressed financial literacy and car buying, leasing and maintenance. In addition, the youth visited Depelchin to learn about the agency’s transitional living housing program and Darling Homes to learn about home buying and leasing.

Every Lifeskills week contains “cooking day” where teens learn to plan, budget, shop and prepare a meal. One recent cooking day was held at the H-E-B in Telfair. “Participating and connecting with the WINGS youth was very special for me. I taught them some things, and they taught me some as well,” stated H-E-B Area Community Coordinator Crystal Moya.

“We are so grateful to all of the volunteers and businesses who participated this year,” said Child Advocates of Fort Bend WINGS Team Leader Heather Rashid. “Not only do these businesses provide invaluable information to the youth, but they help give the teens confidence knowing that they have options for a bright future.”