a publication of Saving Grace of NW
Did you know? • •
20,000 kids age out of foster care every year Only 8% of these kids go on to earn a college diploma (compared to 46% of the general population) 96% of these kids remain on government assistance at the age of 26.
Statistics can help guide us as we work to reach individuals and families living in poverty. They can also leave us feeling overwhelmed and helpless, with a burden to take action, wonderin g if we’re even making a significant impact on these numbers. I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels this way. My family of origin struggled due to generational poverty. Thankfully, our needs were not invisible, as people in my community stepped up to make sure we were taken care of, i.e., teachers, church members, neighbors, DHS workers. God used people working TOGETHER to change my life, and it was the way they served us that impressed my life the most. I am sure my family would have gone without if it weren’t for public assistance and community support. There is definitely a time and a place for using government assistance. However, if we want to raise up interdependent children capable of meeting their own needs as well as the needs of their community, we must work TOGETHER to help them achieve that goal. This has been and continues to be one of my greatest convictions; it is a core belief upon which Saving Grace foundations have been built.
In Romans 12:3-8 God calls us to work TOGETHER as one body. Each of us has been equipped with unique gifts and passions and, as humbling as it is, He uses these things to fulfill his promise of healing the brokenhearted and binding up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3). We have both the opportunity AND the responsibility to work TOGETHER in impacting lives for generations to come. At Saving Grace, we celebrate TOGETHER when one of our “Girls of Grace” achieves one of her goals. We also work TOGETHER
Together BY BECKY SHAFFER, CO-FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
I remember when we began the journey to start Saving Grace, having little more than my own life experience to pave the way. It was 6 years ago, on February 19, 2009, that Kent and I walked through the halls of the former St. Mary’s convent space we now occupy. We were new to Northwest Arkansas, so we didn’t know many people and had no idea how to capture the attention of the community and secure the financial resources needed for starting a nonprofit. I still tell people how it was a modern day miracle how this community came TOGETHER to serve girls orphaned by critical supports. In a short time, He brought talented and passionate people TOGETHER to form our board of directors, staff team, and mentor program. We were no longer just two people working toward a great cause. We were a community!
through the challenges that each day brings. Volunteers and mentors who choose to “get their hands dirty” at Saving Grace work TOGETHER. Financial supporters work together to provide for monetary resources needed to provide a safe and stable place to live for these girls. TOGETHER, we must all learn to recognize the need in our community, listen to ways to get involved, lead by investing our time, and leverage our influence to improve the lives of the most vulnerable around us. Things can get messy and hearts can get broken when we choose to serve deep in the heart of poverty. However, we continue to see the impact of our commitment to serve TOGETHER. Thank you for choosing to invest with your gifts, time, passion and financial support. TOGETHER we are making a difference . . . one brave and precious girl at a time.
Average number of couches our applicants have slept on in the past 6 months.
“Grace” graduates from the program, moves into her own place, and invites SG residents to her housewarming party. Thanks to her financial Life Skills teachers, “Grace” pays off her debts and buys a used car with cash. She completes a year of college and enrolls in another. “Grace” gets her driver’s license after hours of lessons with a brave mentor, passes her G.E.D., and visits the local college campus with our Life Coach. Staff help “Grace” develop her roadmap to independent living, and a cord of 3 mentors join her on the path. She gets her first job and sets up a basic budget.
orientation & assessment
exploration & action
Our “Girls of Grace” (residents) apply to Saving Grace out of a desire to do better than just survive. Many have been walking a path of uncertainty, living paycheck to paycheck (or shelter to shelter) and they fight loneliness in the midst of a loud and busy world. Our program provides these girls with a safe and stable to live and teaches practical life skills to do
achievement & success
3064 Total hours of support that local volunteers gifted to Saving Grace in 2014
65% of former SG residents maintain positive and consistent contact with at least one of their mentors. (according to 2014 Alumni Survey)
better than survive. Perhaps most importantly, though, they are learning that life is best lived when in community with others . . . TOGETHER. With the help of NWA community members and staff, our “Girls of Grace” are accomplishing big things. Consider the journey from move-in to transition that is common for many of our girls. (SEE ABOVE “MAP”)
by Stephanie Davis, Life Coach People in crisis often have three responses: fight, flight, or freeze. Kendra knows this all too well. At 18, crisis defined Kendra’s life as she signed herself out of the state foster care and first became a daughter of the Saving Grace house. She did not stay long before taking the flight response. “Becoming 18 was a superpower,” she recalls. “God was showing me what I could become, but also allowing me to become broken enough to be ready [for the journey at Saving Grace].” Kendra would come and go one more time before coming home ready to face her fears in May 2014. When asked about her defining moments, Kendra shared, “I want to say getting my GED, but I feel like
I feel like my biggest accomplishment is becoming me.” In the
there’s something bigger.
nine months Kendra has been here, she has received her GED, begun college at NWACC, and is pursuing job skills through Christian Women’s Job Corp. “I could have become all these different things, but I became me. This whole journey has to be necessary.”
Kendra’s journey has been filled with many twists and turns. “When you’re hurt and bad things happen, it breaks you down. This journey has been like sandpaper to a piece of wood,” Kendra reflects. Kendra experienced some of this “sanding” at the mentor/mentee retreat last fall when she attempted the ropes course and fell. “I saw that it was okay to fall. My worst fear happened, but the worst possible outcome did not. There will be pain and scars when messing with fears, but it’s okay to face them. It’s okay to fall.” This event eventually became an inspirational metaphor for her life. Kendra strives daily to become more like the woman God has created her to be. “I realize that the cycle of abuse and addictions has to stop with me. When things like Saving Grace happen, you can forget [the past]. I’m free. I’m happy.”
sits in her room playing her favorite song on repeat, probably for the tenth time today. The lyrics play from under her door and echo down the hall. Her favorite song right now is “Oceans” by Hillsong United and she seeks the kind of faith the lyrics articulate. “I want to be bold in my faith,” she proclaims, as she describes a life influencing others for the Kingdom of God. Teka came to Saving Grace right before Thanksgiving, quiet, reserved, and just a little bit afraid. Her family’s move across country had left her on her own to find a place where she could finish school and begin her own story. She did not say much as she toured, but her eyes lit up as she walked into the rooms, realizing she would have her own space.
“It’s really the little bitty things,” Teka shares about her time at Saving Grace . . .“When someone plays with my hair or gives me a long hug. It’s the things I didn’t get before, and they have changed the way I view myself.” She has quickly become
known for her love of hugs and mischievous way of borrowing others’ phones to take countless selfies Teka now has an army of women that surround her with prayer, love, encouragement, and endless hugs. “Having those people to surround yourself with at school is just as important,” referencing her favorite teacher and school counselor. “I thought at first, I’m good. I can do this. I don’t need anyone, and I know God is close to the brokenhearted. But now I know I have people in my life who will pick me up if I’m down.” Graduating high school will change Teka’s family lineage, as she will be the first one to walk across a stage to receive a diploma. Teka truly is paving the way for future generations as she wakes each morning at 5:30 A.M. to catch her connecting bus to the high school where some of her favorite people work! When Teka graduates in May she dreams of going to college to pursue her degree in Social Work to work with hurting children. Although a little nervous, she is excited to walk across that stage, rewriting her own story to say, “I made it and I’m proud of myself.”
We are excited to announce the addition of Kristin Page to our staff. In March 2015 she joined the efforts of Saving Grace as our full-time Educational Liasson for the new Chrysalis Scholars Program (see next page for more info). Kristin and her husband Kris moved to NWA in 1994. They have one daughter, Hannah, who is currently enrolled at the U of A. Kristen graduated from Arkansas Tech University in 1993 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education, and was a part of the Rogers Public School system for 8+ years where she taught at Westside Elementary. It was during this time when she
first met Becky Shaffer, as Becky’s youngest child was a student in her 3rd grade classroom. Kristin and Becky spoke often about Saving Grace, but other obligations prevented her from being able to devote the time it would take to be an effective volunteer. After 8 years of teaching, Kristin decided to “take a year off” to enjoy her daughter’s senior year of high school and pursue other areas of service and volunteerism, including strong involvment in her church. She has used this time to invest in the lives of others around her and is often found nurturing the wounded people that others might overlook. We are fortunate to have her join our team in service to the courageous young men and women in our community.
“I AM BECOMING the best version
Chrysalis Program Academic Coach
On April 1st, 2015, Saving Grace launched the Chrysalis Scholars Program, a one-year (+) pilot program
aimed at supporting the efforts of college students who have a history of foster care placement. Thanks to a grant from the Walmart Foundation, we have had the opportunity to hire a full-time staff person to provide individualized attention and support focused on helping each student overcome barriers that might prevent him/ her from earning a college degree. The ultimate goal is to improve the retention and graduation rates of former and current foster youth enrolled in Northwest Arkansas colleges/universities.
Why the Name “Chrysalis Scholars”?
A “chrysalis” is the hard protective covering for a caterpillar as it is in the process of becoming a butterfly. Our program hopes to serve as a protective covering that will enable former foster youth to reach their fullest potential.
LOCAL ADVOCATES OVER 1/3 OF YOUTH ESTIMATE THAT IN FOSTER CARE THE DROP-OUT EXPERIENCE 5+ RATE FOR LOCAL SCHOOL MOVES, FRESHMAN LEVEL LOSING AN STUDENTS WITH A ESTIMATED 4-6 HX OF FOSTER CARE MONTHS OF IS AROUND 80% PROGRESS PER MOVE
How You Can Help • Spread the word and help us increase awareness about this program within the NWA community. • Support us in identifying and getting in touch with potential program participants. Encourage them • Provide in-kind donations of various items that can be included in care packages for program participants. (These packages will be delivered at various intervals throughout the school year as a source of encouragement.)
• Become a Career Mentor for a Chrysalis Scholars who would like to work in the same career field as you. • Consider providing a donation to go toward a “last dollar” scholarship fund for program participants (to provide for remaining expenses once scholarships have been exhausted). • Pray for wisdom and guidance in developing this program and carrying out this initiative!
ONLY 3-8% OF FOSTER YOUTH EARN A COLLEGE DEGREE; COMPARED TO 46% OF THEIR PEERS
PROGRAMS TO IMPROVE HIGHER EDUCATION OUTCOMES ARE BEING DEVELOPED ACROSS THE COUNTRY, WITH 60% GRADUATION RATES
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a publication of Saving Grace of NWA
Saving Grace of NWA 1229 W. Poplar Rogers, AR 72756 Phone (479) 636-1133 Fax (479) 636-1865 www.savinggracenwa.org
needs list Walmart Gift Cards toilet paper paper towels trash bags HE laundry detergent
cleaning supplies twin sheet sets square Kleenex boxes sandwich baggies gallon size ziplocs
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Newsletter publication for Saving Grace of Northwest Arkansas