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Month-long event shows importance of Fostering Success Program and its students

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The month of May is National Foster Care Month, and PCC’s Fostering Success Program is celebrating.

In conjunction with students and community partners, PCC is hosting events throughout the month to raise awareness about the issues facing children, youth and adults with a history in foster care. The college is running a crowdfunding campaign, “Fostering Success EverydayHero,” to support staffing and services key to the success of the program and its students.

Lisa J. Feinics, Fostering Success Program coordinator.

Lisa J. Feinics, Fostering Success Program coordinator.

Program Coordinator and former foster youth Lisa J. Féinics wants these events to engage others in a positive way.

“Awareness is about more than knowing all the negative aspects of foster care,” Féinics said. “Unfortunately, we are inundated all the time with sad stories or negative statistics about foster youth. I meet current and former foster youth all the time who inspire me with their resilience, compassion, and powerful commitment to achieve – not in spite of their past, but because of it. It is sometimes difficult for people to understand that foster care experience shapes character in good ways, too. That’s why we are going to focus on positive transformation during May.”

Amanda Johnson, a Tualatin High School graduate, knows the importance of National Foster Care Month. She was put into the system in eighth grade following a fight involving her biological family. DHS was called, and her five siblings as well as herself were separated and placed into foster homes. They had lived with her father and stepmother, who struggled with drug and alcohol addictions.

“Their addictions meant that my siblings and I experienced years of moving, dozens of school changes, lack of basic food, and even homelessness,” Johnson remembered. “After going into foster care and eventually being adopted (along with my siblings), I was able to attend the high school for all four years and was actually able to be the first person in my family to graduate from high school.”

Today, Johnson is succeeding. She is a pre-med student at PCC and Portland State University, with a strong interest in sociology.

“Many foster youth lack the support system of a family, so it is particularly important that these students have people who are willing to come alongside them and provide the support and resources necessary for success,” Johnson said. “This support may come in the form of encouragement, scholarships, sharing information and knowledge about the college system, or any number of forms depending on the individual student.”

PCC Foster Care Month Activities:

Champion Appreciation Day – This event is from noon to 2 p.m., Friday, May 5, CLIMB Center. It’s to thank faculty and staff who have attended a PCC Fostering Success’ Champion Training session and shown commitment to creating a supportive environment for students that have experienced foster care. The program will highlight early pioneers of this work at PCC.

AS Club Awareness Day – Students from PCC’s new “Advocacy and Support Club for Foster Care Alumni and Friends” will be hosting fun activities from noon to 2 p.m. at each of the campuses to increase awareness and to raise funds for club activities and the Fostering Success Program. Stop by their tables to learn more and pick up a National Foster Care Month pin.

  • Monday, May 15, Mt. Tabor Great Hall, Southeast Campus.
  • Tuesday, May 16, Lower Mall, College Center, Sylvania.
  • Wednesday, May 17, Student Union lobby, Cascade.
  • Thursday, May 18, Building 5 lobby, Rock Creek.

Champion Training – Faculty and staff who are interested in becoming champions for foster youth as part of the PCC Fostering Success Network can sign up for training. Champions work within the scope of their position to effectively serve students with lived-experience in foster care. Slots are limited, but during May two separate sessions will be offered from 12:15-2:45 p.m., Tuesday, May 16, and 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Friday, May 19, both in Room 302/303, CLIMB Center.

PCC Fostering Success’ Evening of Transformative Expression – The program is from 5:30-7 p.m., Wednesday, May 31, Room 108, ST Building, Sylvania Campus, 12000 SW 49th Ave. Enjoy an evening of uplifting prose, poems, or visual images by those who have been impacted in some way from issues related to foster care. The evening’s theme is “transformation,” and anyone can sign-up to contribute three minutes of material, which can include spoken word or a visual image displayed during the event. Current and former foster youth, biological parents, foster parents, caseworkers, siblings, as well as others who have been impacted in some way, are welcome to participate. All are invited to attend.

Interested in participating as a speaker or artist? Email fosteringsuccess@pcc.edu

To donate to the crowdfunding campaign, visit the fund-raising page.

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, is the Interim Senior Director of Marketing & Communications at Portland Community College. A graduate of Portland State University, James has worked as a section e... more »