The R.J. Leonard Foundation’s Holiday Wish Lists are live!
Help us make our Fellow’s holiday season a little merrier and a little brighter by gifting them and their children their wishes this year. You’ll see everything on those lists from the classic toys and video games to kitchen appliances and clothes to gift cards. And yes, we know gift cards aren’t always fun to give, but they are amazing to get! For many of our Fellows, those gift cards help them out with necessities but also give them the autonomy to buy the things they most want or even buy a gift for someone else.
Thank you in advance for your generosity and continued support! Happy Holidays!
Thanksgiving is the time of year when we are reminded to be grateful. But in truth, at the R.J. Leonard Foundation, we don’t need a holiday to remind us. Every day, our community, our Fellows, our Mentors, our Board give us the opportunity to be thankful for them and for all they do. Today is no different.
Thank you for allowing us to have 365 days filled with gratitude! Happy Thanksgiving!
Change is hard, and we at RJLF are in the middle of some pretty big changes. Our Executive Director for the past three years - Joelle Pitts - has stepped down to pursue other opportunities. We are so happy for her and thrilled that she will remain on the board of RJLF despite no longer being our executive director. Anyone who has worked with Joelle knows what an asset she is to the Foundation and all of our Fellows. She will be sorely missed but not gone.
Program Director Sue Coyle will be stepping into Joelle’s shoes as interim executive director and we’ll be working to hire a new program director in the meantime. Through it all, our Fellows will still need to have their needs met, to have holiday meals and gifts delivered and to feel supported despite the transitions in action.
We know that we can do it. We are committed to doing it. We know you are too. We want to thank you in advance for your continued support through our transition and for, as always, believing in the Foundation and the success of our Fellows!
It’s hard to know what you’re going to do with your life when you’re 18 or 21 (or, let’s be honest, at any age). Yet that’s exactly what we ask teenagers to do when they apply and commit to colleges. Choose a major. Choose a direction. Choose the rest of your life.
Perhaps that’s a bit dramatic. Majors can change, after all, and there’s no end to stories about second and third careers. However, that weightiness is exactly how it feels when you’re 18. It’s heavy, even more so when you are a young person without support, without a network to fall back on when you’ve realized an error or are just feeling unsure. Taking a risk, particularly one as expensive as college, can seem like too much of a leap.
At the R.J. Leonard Foundation, we try to help young people without the traditional foundation of support think through such big decisions so that college doesn’t feel like a risk too big too take. Rather it’s an opportunity to venture down a path filled with multiple possibilities and achieve the success that is dreamed of. If you would like to be a part of helping the R.J. Leonard Foundation, visit us at www.rjleonardfoundation.org.
And as a reminder: College application deadlines are looming. Be kind to your seniors.
October has ended. The cobwebs are coming down and the wreaths are going up. That may not be the case in your house just yet, but the truth is the holidays are right around the corner. We are currently collecting gift lists and organizing our holiday party at RJLF. That means, pretty soon, we’re going to need you. Year after year you help us fulfill the wishes of our Fellows and their children so that they, too, can have a holiday season of wonder!
Buying one or two or three gifts may not seem like a lot to you, but to our Fellows, it’s the world. Just last year, one of our Fellows told us that she had not gotten a Christmas gift since leaving foster care. She’s currently 27 years old. You make a difference. This makes a difference.
Keep your eyes out for Amazon wishlists and other ways to help as we wind down 2022 with festivity and good cheer!
Every year, you astound and honor us with your generosity to the R.J. Leonard Foundation and our Fellows. Last night was no different. Every ticket, every bid reminded us of how much you support the work that we do and the efforts our Fellows make to launch their lives and careers. Thank you for being our community and our family. We are ever grateful!
Schools are meant to be safe places. For youth experiencing instability, violence and neglect at home, schools are often the only safe place. However, increasingly over the years, that safety has come into question with reports of bullying and violence, shootings and more. When children are not only doing but accustomed to active shooter drills, how safe can a school feel?
This week is National Safe Schools Week. Districts may send home newsletters about safety practices and improvements. Children may learn about things they can do to help keep their school safe. But how effective are practices and policies at individual schools when the community and society as a whole is not committed as well?
We must all work together to create safe schools. After all, children cannot learn if they do not feel safe.
RJLF’s Heart for Change gala is just two weeks away, with the silent auction opening in one! Do you have your tickets yet?
You don’t want to miss out on a night of great fun, with music by Keith Garner, emceeing from Jay Deppeler, delicious food and an open bar! The silent and live auctions are loaded with lots of amazing goodies from hayrides to dinners out to theater tickets and more! On top of it all, you’ll be helping to ensure that RJLF continues providing quality mentoring, financial assistance and additional support to young people aging out of foster care in Bucks and Montgomery counties. What’s not to love?
Get your tickets today and join us on October 27 at the Cedarbrook Country Club.
Over the past several months, the R.J. Leonard Foundation has seen an increasing number of our Fellows on campus reaching out to the Foundation for assistance with food. Yes, many have a meal plan, but the cafeteria isn’t always fully open - particularly not through the summer semester, during football summer camp or during brief breaks in the semester. Even when it is open, the offerings may not be amazing. What’s more, meal plans don’t cover those late night cravings when you’re working on papers or mid-class snack attacks. Our Fellows don’t have family members sending them care packages. They didn’t move into their dorm with a bin full of Easy Mac and Ramen, chips and cereal. They are fully reliant, especially when the little money they are able to earn goes to car payments, cell phones and tuition, on what’s available on campus, and what’s available doesn’t always cover the basics.
Off campus, our Fellows are also struggling. After monthly bills, their income is depleted. At the grocery store, the cost of food is enough to limit the shopping trip and/or make subsequent trips through the month nearly impossible. We are increasingly helping to supplement incomes for food, reaching out to community partners for help with food, and referring our Fellows to food pantries.
The basics. That’s what our Fellows need right now. If you’re able to help, go to rjleonardfoundation.org to donate.
September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and on this - the penultimate day of September - the question is, did you know that? If so, what did you learn this month? What did you teach?
Nationally, we have many months with many (often overlapping) assigned causes. Though individuals and organizations attempt to raise awareness throughout each month, it’s often easy to miss or simply stop noticing. The NFL fields, for example, will be dotted with pink for Breast Cancer throughout October, but how many will see that and be reminded to learn more about risk factors, donate to research or take other action? How many will just see cool cleats?
Calls for awareness and action are important. Months of opportunity for learning are valuable. But we have to remember to take note. We have to remember to pay attention in the month and beyond.
As National Suicide Prevention Month ends, remember this: suicide is preventable. Learn more about how you can be a part of that prevention here.