Caitlin Deppeler Becomes Our New LeadeR
“I’m thrilled to introduce myself to the RJLF family!” Caitlin has served the mission of the Foundation during the past ten years in multiple capacities: participation in the planning of our first two fundraisers, four years on our Board, and most recently as our Board Chair. It is my privilege to transition into the role of Executive Director, while Jo Leonard, our Founder and a close friend, will be serving in a new role as Chief Visionary Officer.
Caitlin brings a unique understanding and familiarity of our Fellows’ perspectives - “I previously supervised Valley Youth House’s emergency shelter in Bucks County, which serves youth who are experiencing homelessness, are at-risk of becoming homeless, or are involved with the child welfare system. ... I am humbled to have been chosen to lead the organization into the future."
Read Caitlin's complete letter of introduction.
Britany* Dreamed of a Road-Trip With Her SoN
“It was just like watching an endless movie … From Elvis to cowboys, native Americans and dinosaurs. Aliens and waterfalls. Ghost towns and the city that never sleeps. Canyons and mountains and horizons that never end. I still am in shock.”
Our Fellow, Britany, and her son had “the experience of a lifetime … driving on what is considered America’s most beautiful highway:” Utah’s Scenic Byway 12 (also known as “A Journey Through Time”). Through our Dare to Dream program, Britany worked closely with her Mentor and the RJLF team to plan her four-day camping trip and achieve her dream to share moments of awe with her son. ”As a parent we know we can’t give our children the world, but we can show them it, and to be granted the opportunity to show him this part of our world was the biggest blessing.”
See photos of Britany’s Dare to Dream experience.
Aging Out at 18 Makes it Nearly Impossible to Launch
When youth in foster care turn 18 they become eligible to transition out of foster care. Often these youth are completely unprepared for the daily realities of adulthood, and little to no support system or network to lean back on. When these young adults fail to launch, they cost the tax payer $300,000, annually.
However, our transitioning Fellows benefit directly from RJLF's Friends Launching Futures sustaining support fund. Read our breakdown of Friends Launching Futures support and hear one of our current “Friends,” Delana, explain why consistent support is a commitment you can feel good about.
Heart for Change: A Celebration!
In the News: Foster Care, Transitioning Out, and Mentorship
*Names and identifying information has been changed to protect the confidentiality and safety of Fellows involved in the R.J. Leonard Foundation's programming.
For young adults who have aged out of foster care, the holidays are isolating . Imagine living in independent housing or a group home, wondering where you will be this time next year. There are no holiday traditions.
The R.J. Leonard Foundation invites you to support our Fellows this holiday season. Empower these bright young adults to succeed through scholarships and enrichment opportunities.
Featured Fellow: Joseph*
Joseph spent most of his early life in and out of different group homes. Despite graduating high school and being extremely independent, he did not think he would be capable of success in college. His main concern was to find employment and pay his bills.
When Joseph was referred to RJLF by the county, he was a contract maintenance worker. We were able to quickly match him with a Mentor who assisted him with his goal to secure full-time employment. He tells us he has learned a lot working in an office as an account specialist. “My Mentor…is awesome. Having his listening ear and encouragement has been so great.”
Now, Joseph is taking evening classes that he loves, and wants to pursue a job in social work. “The support I’ve received from [my Mentor] Tom and RJLF has been amazing.”
RJLF Joyfully Welcomes Two New Mentors
John is a retired Ernest & Young partner who currently participates in multiple not-for-profit activities. After hearing about RJLF through his parish, he was told about our need for a Mentor to our Fellow Jason.* “We are still learning about each other,” said John. “We are working to set meaningful and specific goals … I hope that whatever guidance I provide, that Jason finds [it] meaningful. I want to take whatever we discuss last week and move it forward.”
*Names changed to protect identity
As a teacher, Pam was already alarmed by the number of children she has seen enter foster care. Her husband was the Master of Ceremony for our recent fundraising event, Heart for Change . Pam was moved by our board member and Fellow Miles’s keynote speech . “[The] stories I heard of Fellows being positively impacted and their lives changed…I was completely moved by the whole event.” Pam is excited to build her relationship with our Fellow, Emily.* “They possess the power that determines their destiny.”
In the News: Foster Care, Aging Out, and Mentorship
The end of the year is near. make Your year-end gift today.
Upcoming event: Heart for Change celebration
Miles: From an RJLF Fellow to an RJLF Board Member
Miles Hanley is an R.J. Leonard Foundation board member. Previously in foster care, he was our first Fellow. While the challenges Miles faced as a child empowered him to focus on the positive aspects of his life, Miles told us he is an exception to those who face similar childhood circumstances. Miles will be sharing his experiences at our Heart for Change Celebration.
Featured Fellow & Community Partner Spotlight
Two months ago Emily's car broke down. This put a tremendous strain on her education, job, and getting her daughter to daycare. Within 48 hours, our new Community Partner, Discount Auto, stepped in and saved the day.
When she was referred to RJLF, Emily relied on public transportation and her friends to get to class, work, and transport her daughter to day care. In addition to the stressful demands of her class requirements, each day transportation was a challenge. With the support of Discount Auto, we were able to purchase a used car for Emily.
“Right before I met with the R.J. Leonard foundation, I was stressed out to my capacity… I am in awe of your generosity and compassion towards helping me with my transportation issue that was wreaking havoc in my life.” Without a car, Emily was at risk of losing her job and her school program. “I am motivated to complete my goals for my daughter so that we can live a better life, and I can have a career.”
Thanks to the generosity of our donors and to Community Partners like Discount Auto for your ongoing support that allows us to carry out our mission.
*Name has been changed to reflect anonymity.
In the News: Foster Care, Aging Out, and Mentorship
Summer! A time to embrace activity and celebrate the end of winter blues and spring storms. For many of us, the summer means we’re that much closer to an anticipated vacation, but for youth aging out of the foster care system, vacation is more like a dream.
The R.J. Leonard Foundation invites you to be the person who makes the idea of “getting away” a reality for our Fellows. Any amount allows Fellows to experience a break from the adversities they're accustomed to:
$10 - a beach pass to the Jersey shore
$50 - two tickets to Delaware River Tubing
$100 - two passes for Six Flags
Monthly gifts of any amount allow RJLF to provide sustainable resources to our Fellows, summertime and beyond! Talk to us about how you can become a supportive constant in our Fellows' lives, and read on to see the value in a donation to the R.J. Leonard Foundation.
RJLF Workshop: Networking and Building Relationships
85% of all jobs are filled via networking. Our most recent workshop centered around networking and building relationships. In this short video, workshop presenter and RJLF board member Sameer Somal explains why relationship building is important for young adults impacted by foster care.
Featured Fellow: Carl*
When Carl was referred to RJLF in October of 2015, he worked closely with his new Mentor and our team to establish steps towards his goal to pursue a career in technology and achieve a stable income. We referred Carl to Zip Code Wilmington, assisted him in the application process for this competitive and rigorous coding program, and provided Carl with a grant that assisted with his living expenses. This support enabled Carl to focus on his studies and start his career.
RJLF is proud to share that Carl successfully completed the program in December of 2016, and currently works for JPMorgan Chase as a technology analyst! The support of generous donors and invaluable Mentors allows us to carry out impactful work and empower our Fellows to succeed.
Carl sums his achievements up well in a recent note to RJLF: “A year ago this month, RJLF was helping me keep food in the fridge and supporting the insane undertaking which resulted in my attending Zip Code Wilmington and eventually winding up where I am now. You all helped make that happen, and I hope you savor the positive changes you make in the lives of individuals who desperately need a shot at doing more."
Featured Mentors: Barb and John
When RJLF needed a Mentor for Theresa* in 2015, John asked his wife Barb if she would become her Mentor. Barb agreed, but wanted to share the responsibility, and a mentoring partnership was formed between them.
“It is rewarding to work with our Fellow, and interesting to see her grow and mature over the years. She is a talented and very motivated young woman who just needs guidance to see all the opportunities available to her… We have been very impressed with her motivation and resourcefulness. She bought a house last year which is quite an accomplishment for any young person in their early twenties. She was able to do this while working, attending school, and caring for her young son. She is a remarkable young woman.”
*Names have been changed to reflect anonymity.
Upcoming: Cedarbrook 2017
April is RJLF Planning Month, so a great time to join our board!
Story #1: Lovely Lisa - one amazing mentor
Lisa Breitmayer joined RJLF as a Mentor in 2016. After attending our 2015 fundraiser and learning more about the need to support young adults aging out in her own community, Lisa was inspired to become a Mentor. Lisa’s passion and dedication have had a tremendous impact on the life of RJLF Fellow “Christine”. We asked Lisa what she loves about being an RJLF Mentor.
“I am blessed to offer guidance and support to an extremely bright and determined young woman whose drive and determination never ceases to amaze me. Going to college full time while raising a child and all that it entails, is hard. There are so many obstacles along the way… affordable housing, living expenses, putting food on the table everyday, school loans, auto repairs and everyday stress. It has been so fulfilling to be able to help her navigate college, provide games for her son, teach her about budgeting, healthy eating and clever study tips, and especially to be a listener when she needs to vent at the end of a grueling week. Seeing some sense of relief wave across her face when we finish our conversation, I am reminded again and again how worthwhile this relationship is to both of us.” In addition to being an RJLF Mentor, Lisa is a nurse, mother, grandmother, and volunteer for the American Cancer Society. We are so appreciative to Lisa for her commitment to make a difference!