It’s always exciting for me to see our Springs students volunteering their time and energy to help make our community a better place. One such student I’d like to highlight this month is Cecilia Clark, a 15-year-old 9th grader with our KEYS program, who has launched two programs to help foster children in the Kamali’I Foster Family Agency in Lake Elsinore. Cecilia herself entered the foster system at age 5, and was part of it until age 10, when her parents, Wendell and Jeanne Clark of Menifee, adopted her.
Living in the foster system is a “heartbreaking system and reality for so many children,” she says, as foster children never know when they have to leave their homes and move elsewhere. She continues, “The minute we signed [my adoption papers] before the judge I finally felt like I belonged. I knew I was safe and my family and friends would be mine forever. Being able to be a part of my siblings’ lives and my birth family’s lives is important to me, and my adoptive family has made this possible for me while keeping me safe and loved.”
To help ease the difficulties of children in the foster system, Cecilia created The Giving Tree program, which attaches the names of foster children and the toys they want for Christmas on to ornaments. The ornaments are fixed on Christmas trees throughout the community, and donors can take the ornaments and buy the child’s requested toys. As Cecilia noted, “Christmas is a very difficult time for foster kids and this is a way to make it a bit easier for them.”
The second program provides blankets for foster children. Its purpose, along with the ornament program’s, is to “let the foster children know there are people who think and care about them in the community.”
Cecilia has been in Springs schools since grade 5 and has found the curriculum a good fit for her life. With KEYS, she enjoys the program’s flexibility, the chance to get special help when she needs it, and the free time she needs for volunteering. Her future plans include working in interior design, as well as continuing to volunteer to help foster children.
An event for Cecilia’s Giving Tree project will be held at the Kamali’i Foster Family Agency, 31772 Casino Drive, Suite B, Lake Elsinore on November 2, 9-11 a.m. The blanket project is ongoing; blanket donations for foster children can be made at the KEYS office, 26800 Newport Road, Menifee.
Dr. Kathleen Hermsmeyer