When I entered foster care at the age of 15 I was placed in an unfit home through which I was introduced to drugs and various other negative influences. Orangewood's Independent Living Program (ILP) required that I attend regular workshops in order to prepare myself for my upcoming emancipation. Through these workshops I learned about the innumerable resources available to foster kids interested in attaining a higher education. Orangewood taught me the steps in applying for college, in competing for scholarships, and in helping myself stand on my own two feet. Mentors helped council me in regards to my personal struggles and former foster youth assisted in my learning to cope with entering the foster care system so late into my teen years.
By the time graduation rolled around I had been accepted into every single university I applied to (10!) including my number one choice, UCLA. I was clean from drugs and ready to move forward with my life. All four years of my undergraduate education were paid for through winning multiple scholarships, including a living expense of $6,000 per year from Orangewood. I was able to conduct research in South Africa, Peru, and Thailand during the course of my study. None of this would have been possible without the wonderful staff at Orangewood who did everything they could to get me the funding I needed.
Orangewood still plays a major role in my life, as I am now an active volunteer and continue to maintain close relationships with many of the staff. I couldn't have asked for a greater blessing in life, as foster care ironically ended up being the best thing that ever happened to me.
The organization is supported primarily by donations so every little bit counts!