Creating a Brighter Future
Walden Family Services works to empower foster youth
Posted on Nov. 2, 2016
Lacey Bowman doesn’t take family for granted. The 26-year-old now has a college degree, good job, safe home, loving husband, and two adorable sons. For many, these are the basic elements of a normal life. But for those who grow up without them, a normal life is hardly guaranteed. By the age of nine, Bowman was one failed foster placement away from being sent off to a group home or juvenile hall. Her future seemed dim. “I had behavior issues. Every time a home didn’t work out and I was returned, the behavior issues got worse,” Bowman recalls. Then she found Walden Family Services.
At Walden, a foster care, adoption, and youth services agency headquartered in San Diego, Bowman came under the care of a tenacious social worker with a strength far greater than her petite stature indicated. “It was exactly what I needed,” says Bowman. In addition to tough love, Bowman saw how the Walden team worked to find solutions rather than passing her off to someone else. “They really tried to make sure that the homes they put me in fit me,” she says. At 12, she was placed with a family who took legal guardianship of her, concluding her relationship with Walden. However, shortly before her 18th birthday, her foster mom suddenly died. With high school graduation and adulthood looming, she reached out again to the Walden team. She got the guidance that helped continue her path to college — financial aid and scholarship application assistance, campus tours, and finally, enrollment. Walden even provided gas cards to make sure her long commute to school didn’t become a barrier to completing her degree.
Bowman’s story illustrates Walden’s ongoing commitment to the youth it serves. “Walden has really worked to stay true to its vision that every child has a loving family, and the opportunity to realize their full potential as a productive member of the community,” says Jessica Ripper, Walden’s director of marketing. “It’s about letting them know that they are resilient, they can heal, and that they can go on to be the people they want to become and their experience doesn’t need to hold them back.” She adds, “Not only will it make that one individual life better and create opportunities for that one person, it has a ripple effect on society.”
The care and life skills Bowman gained with Walden enabled her to create the kind of environment for her own family she could only dream of when she was young. “I love my kids and I want them to know always how much they’re loved, and make sure that they have a safe family,” she says.
Walden Family Services relies upon the support of individual donors and private funders to help fulfill its mission of ensuring that every child who enters foster care is given the opportunity to realize their full potential. For ways to give, visit the organization’s Web site. 619.584.5777, waldenfamily.org DEANNA MURPHY