Cel­e­brat­ing foster youth, rais­ing aware­ness Ed­u­ca­tor’s As­so­ci­a­tion hosts birth­day party event in Forestville

The Enquire-Gazette - - Front Page - By JOHNATHON CLINKSCALES [email protected]­news.com

The Prince Ge­orge’s County Ed­u­ca­tors’ As­so­ci­a­tion hosted a foster care aware­ness birth­day party on May 27 in Forestville, while cel­e­brat­ing the birthdays of youth in the lo­cal foster care sys­tem.

“We’re throw­ing this event for foster care aware­ness and just to give sup­port,” said Jereme Joseph, a math teacher from Clin­ton Grove Ele­men­tary School who ob­tained a grant to put on the event. “I’m an ed­u­ca­tor and I had a foster youth in my class­room. From that ex­pe­ri­ence, it was hard at first — he and I didn’t get along, but even­tu­ally we ended up hav­ing a great stu­dent-teacher re­la­tion­ship and I de­vel­oped a real con­cern and care for sup­port­ing him in all that he did. With that in mind, we had this party.”

The event — spon­sored by Weg­man’s and It Takes Two Inc. — fea­tured about five ven­dors, free swag bag give­aways, raf­fles, gift cards, prizes, re­sources for foster youth and their fam­i­lies, free coach­ing, games, mo­ti­va­tional speak­ers and a mu­si­cal se­lec­tion from Duke Elling­ton School of the Arts stu­dent Ja­neesah “Ja’Ness” Tate.

Jamel­lah Kemp, founder and CEO of It Takes Two Inc., shared how her or­ga­ni­za­tion is tied to foster care aware­ness.

“The rea­son why we chose to be a spon­sor for this event is be­cause we are all things youth and our fo­cus is on the un­der­served youth who need ex­tra sup­port,” Kemp said. “Our main fo­cus is on stu­dents that live in sin­gle-par­ent homes and of course we have foster youth, home­less­ness and all of those things. So it’s just our way to give some sup­port for our young peo­ple.”

Ed­u­ca­tors’ As­so­ci­a­tion Pres­i­dent Theresa Mitchell Dud­ley en­cour­aged the foster youth to live every day like it’s their birth­day and cel­e­brate them­selves as they have over­come tremen­dous strides.

“You need to do some­thing to re­new your spirit on a monthly ba­sis and that’s what I do,” said Dud­ley. “Be­cause no­body’s go­ing to love you like you love your­self and in this world, it’s hard out here. … Learn to love who you are and the fact that God put you here for a rea­son.”

Pauline Rose Moore shared her story about be­ing a foster child alum and how she and her six sib­lings bounced around the foster care sys­tem. Moore’s bi­o­log­i­cal par­ents suf­fered from al­co­hol and co­caine abuse, and she was mo­lested at a young age by her older half brother, who later died in 1997.

For­tu­nately for Moore, a New York na­tive, she was adopted at the age of 10. Her first foster mom, who couldn’t adopt Moore be­cause she was white, has re­mained in her life through­out all the years she was in foster care up un­til adop­tion, and even this day, some­thing Moore con­sid­ers to be a bless­ing.

“The cool part is I know all of my sib­lings — I’m one of seven — and my first foster mom is ac­tu­ally still in my life to­day,” Moore said. “One of the things that I did is I wrote a story. We all have a story and so this is just a piece, a lit­tle snip­pet and it’s called ‘Gabriella and Sa­man­tha’s New Mom.’ It’s about two lit­tle girls jour­ney­ing on their way to their new foster mom and it’s ac­tu­ally my story. So the ques­tion is will they fi­nally have a place to call home, be­cause that’s pretty much what every foster kid wants — we want a place to call home.”

Moore, who is now a cer­ti­fied coach for The John Maxwell Co., has served in the Air Force Re­serves for al­most 10 years and is a mem­ber of Kappa Ep­silon Psi Mil­i­tary Soror­ity Inc. In ad­di­tion to be­ing a men­tor and first-time au­thor, Moore is co-owner of AWE­some Min­istry, founder of Women of Tri­umph and owns a small graphic de­sign com­pany. Her life vi­sion and mis­sion is to serve God in spirit and in truth, an­swer­ing to the many gifts that God has be­stowed upon her, ac­cord­ing to Moore’s web­site.

“Once you fi­nally re­al­ize who you are and your iden­tity in Christ, that’s when you re­al­ize that I’ve been ac­cepted all along,” she said.

Mar­qett De­mond Brown of Fort Washington also shared his story. Brown, 28, is a two-time foster alum. He was first placed in foster care at just 18 months old.

“I can’t blame my mom for me go­ing into foster care be­cause I found out that my grand­mother was mur­dered in Washington, D.C., on fed­eral prop­erty when my mother was 10 years old,” Brown said. “My mother was taken away from her fam­ily and she was raised by a le­gal guardian.”

Brown said the first foster home he was placed into in­tro­duced him to God.

“The im­por­tance about that is that I found out that my name was Mar­qett De- mond Wor­thy when I was 15 years old. I never re­ally paid at­ten­tion to my full name,” he said. “As a young child, that was my only safe haven — the fact I found out about this level of faith that I could have and that could fill me to do what­ever I need to do.”

When Brown was about 5 or 6 years old, he per­suaded a judge to al­low him to re­turn to his bi­o­log­i­cal fam­ily. It was that point in Brown’s life when his faith would be tested. Brown’s mother was evicted and forced to re­lo­cate to D.C. where he nearly lost his life years later.

“When I was 9 years old, some­one came to my home one time, try­ing to get to my mother for drugs,” Brown said. “In broad day­light, the dude pulled a gun out and put it to my head [threat­en­ing to kill me if my mother didn’t come out­side of the house]. … Long story short, my mom and I [wound up] safe but it was the first en­counter I had be­cause of some­thing that stemmed from my le­gal guardian­ship.”

Brown said the level of sup­port given to a foster child just to be in a safe en­vi­ron­ment can go a long way.

“I of­ten had to learn to em­brace oth­ers as my col­leagues or friends or as­so­ci­ates with that cre­ated sense of car­ing for oth­ers,” he said. “You have to take re­spon­si­bil­ity to what it is that you want to do with your life. Be­cause some­times when you live in group homes, some of those chil­dren never find some­one to look up to.”

The event con­cluded with a brief pre­sen­ta­tion on how foster youth can achieve their ca­reer goals. Shakeara Mingo, a Howard County res­i­dent, was the key­note speaker.

“It’s two parts — al­ways have a plan and know how to ex­e­cute it,” Mingo said. “I knew that education was my key to get out of foster care.”

Mingo, who grad­u­ated from Cross­land High School, said the se­cret to how foster kids can get into col­lege is to tell their story.

“Col­leges love foster care kids. Why? Be­cause they have a story,” Mingo said. “I ended up be­ing ac­cepted into the Univer­sity of Mary­land Col­lege Park and they gave me a full ride. I didn’t have to pay for no tu­ition be­cause I told my story.”

Mingo said the other key to suc­cess is to be­friend like-minded peo­ple. She en­cour­aged the youth to as­so­ci­ate them­selves with a small cir­cle of peo­ple who are smarter than and can up­lift them.

“I have two friends that al­ready have their own busi­nesses. One of my friends got me into Ge­orge­town [Univer­sity],” said Mingo, who is now in grad­u­ate school at the univer­sity. “Haters will tell you that you can’t do some­thing but faith in your­self tells you that you can do all things in Christ who strength­ens you. Haters will tell you that you can’t get through this but faith in your­self will tell you that you’re more than a con­querer.”

For Dud­ley, she said she is very pleased with the pos­i­tive mes­sages shared at the foster care aware­ness cel­e­bra­tion.

“Some­times you just have to speak things into ex­is­tence,” Dud­ley said. “We are more than happy to host this again.”

Bowie res­i­dents Pauline Rose Moore and her 11-year-old son, Eli­jah Moore, smile as Moore dis­plays her “I Was Ne­glected, But Now I’m Ac­cepted” t-shirts and first book, “Gabriella and Sa­man­tha’s New Mom.” Moore, a cer­ti­fied coach for The John Maxwell...


Prince Ge­orge’s County Ed­u­ca­tors’ As­so­ci­a­tion Pres­i­dent Theresa Mitchell Dud­ley speaks to foster youth and their fam­i­lies dur­ing a foster care aware­ness birth­day party and cel­e­bra­tion event on May 27 in Forestville. More than 20 peo­ple at­tended the...

Kandies Rope Twis­ters members Mar­sil Brad­shaw, 9, Gabriel Carter, 9, and Cam­ryn Cole­man, 8, per­form a dou­ble-dutch stunt as oth­ers watch. Kandies Rope Twis­ters, founded and coached by LaKe­sha Brad­shaw of District Heights, are re­gion as well as world...


Jaemel­lah Kemp, left, founder and CEO of It Takes Two Inc., net­works with Kame­sha Clark of Up­per Marl­boro, a green party can­di­date for Mary­land’s 4th Con­gres­sional District in the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Kemp was one of the spon­sors for the event.

Dud­ley, left cen­ter, dances with a foster child as mu­sic plays at the party.

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