A Force Awakens
Recently, I took my family to see the new Star Wars Movie, “The Force Awakens.” In the movie, we are introduced to a new character – a beautiful, scrappy young woman named Rey. Rey’s parents, however, are missing – they are nowhere to be found. As a result, Rey is left to live as a scavenger in a spaceship junkyard.
As I watched the movie, I couldn’t help but be reminded of how young women without parents in their lives, here in our community, often face a difficult and uncertain future.
A Future of Uncertainty
“I’m 18, now what?”
Many children in our community, for whatever reason, do not have the love and support of their biological parents in their lives. These children often find themselves in foster care.
Currently, there are more than 400 children in Muskegon County living in foster care.
On their eighteenth birthday, these children are considered adults. As they celebrate this milestone birthday they face a new, sometimes harsh, reality.
As they transition out of foster care, where will they go next?
Most of us take food, shelter, personal safety, education, mentorship, opportunity, love and support for granted. The same cannot be always be said about a young adult’s transition out of foster care and into adulthood.
A New Hope
After becoming aware of the plight of these young adults in our community, a group of caring individuals banded together to create Step Up. Two of these individuals, Dr. Dick Kamps and Carolyn Walker, are prominent members of our local health care community.
The vision of Step Up is to equip and empower young women transitioning out of foster care to:
- Aspire toward further education,
- Find fulfilling employment and become financially independent,
- Develop healthy relationships with others,
- Connect with mentors, and
- Grow spiritually.
A Place to Call Home
Since their journey began last year, the Step Up team has purchased a house, identified a house manager, and raised considerable community awareness and interest in the project.
The group is working with local businesses and tradesmen, some of whom have volunteered their time, expertise, and labor, to help renovate the house. The opening date will depend on completing the renovations, and raising sufficient funding.
An Opportunity for Everyone to Step Up
Recently, I had the opportunity to tour the renovations the team is making to the house. The excitement and hope within the dwelling was palpable. I don’t think I’ve ever met a more committed group of people, or experienced a stronger sense of community.
As the New Year begins, I’d encourage you to make some time and talk with Dr. Kamps or Carolyn about their personal and collective vision for this project. Ask them about the changes they’ve already seen in others and experienced within themselves as a result of this journey.
It takes a village to raise a child. – African proverb
Think about the difference this project will make in the lives of young women.
Think about the message this project is sending to these young women about what we value in our community.
Then please, take some time and reflect upon the ways in which you, yourself, might be willing to participate or contribute to this truly life changing project. You can receive update information on Step Up’s ongoing progress and needs by following them on Facebook, and subscribing to their newsletter.