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Esperanza Gala: DACA Scholarship Initative

The University of South Carolina Colony of Kappa Delta Chi Sorority, Incorporated is excited about our 1st Annual fundraising event, Esperanza Gala and Art Auction. In order for this event to be successful, we are donating 100% of the proceeds raised from ticket sales and donations towards the cause from supporters in our community. The positive response will allow us to create a DACA Scholarship Fund aiding low-income applicants. DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is an American immigration policy that provides temporary relief from deportation and a renewable 2-year work permit for qualified young adults who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. If approved, DACA-mented youth can receive a Social Security Number, a Driver’s License, eligibility for higher education, apply for jobs,

We firmly believe that communities become great and businesses thrive where opportunity is deemed important, because the lives of its citizens are enriched. The USC Colony of Kappa Delta Chi Sorority, Incorporated seeks to provide such enrichment to the community by promoting educational, cultural, civic, and economic opportunities for Undocumented youth through this initiative. We believe, through this financial scholarship we can cultivate the skills and talents of high school students to become leaders for the betterment of their communities.

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Follow these links to buy tickets and donate to our gofundme page.

https://www.gofundme.com/KDChiEsperanzaGala

http://kdchiesperanzagala.ticketleap.com/esperanza-gala-daca-scholarship-initative/

 

An Inside Look at Palmetto Place

Today's post comes from Victoria Infinger, our communications intern.  

You've heard our mission statement: Palmetto Place Children’s Shelter provides a safe and nurturing environment for abused and neglected children and unaccompanied teens, offering them a broad range of services concentrating on personal healing and development. The shelter is open 24 hours each day of the year and provides medical and mental health care, crisis adjustment/transitional counseling, after-school tutoring and recreational and social activities in addition to food, clothing and shelter.

But what are a few days in the life of the shelter actually like?

Day 1: The Call 

One of the most common questions people ask is where our children come from.  It’s hard to pin-point an exact place where our residents come from, but it’s easiest to tell you that they come from referrals.  Sometimes children come to us from DSS, and sometimes they come from law enforcement, other shelters, or schools.  If we are able to serve the child, Palmetto Place will apply for more information and attend court.  DSS determines the process needed to help the family and the child.

“It is our job to protect these kids,” says Jill Lawson, our director of client services.

This is just the first step in protecting them.

Day 2: The Child

Abuse: (verb) To treat a person with cruelty or violence, especially regularly or repeatedly. 

Defining abuse is easy to put into words on a computer screen, but abuse materializes into many different forms when it rings your doorbell in the form of a child.

Each story is different.  Each child is different.  They vary from the child whose mother dropped him off on his birthday saying, “Happy birthday. I don’t want you anymore” to the youth whose back is covered with gashes from a belt dipped in hot wax.  Sometimes the story goes as simply as the family was not capable of taking care of the child.

When children are lucky, they come to us with everything they own stuffed into a black garbage bag.  Most children arrive empty handed, not wanting to bring anything back from “home.”

Palmetto Place then shows the child to their room.  One resident recalls fondly a group of small children rushing to hug and welcome her.  At the time, she didn't know a single face.

Day 3: The Breakdown

Moving is hard, especially if you've lost sense of what is home.

Jessica, one of Palmetto Place’s board members, recalled an afternoon in which she and her family had taken the shelter out for pizza and games.  A young girl tugged on her arm and whispered, “I want to go home.”  She didn't realize that this was the girl’s first day at the shelter, and when she said “home,” she meant her home before Palmetto Place.

This is where our houseparents come to the rescue.  We have Ms. Jenny, our lead houseparent, who swooped the girl into her arms and told her that Palmetto Place was a castle, and she got to be the princess.

Day 4 – The End: Restoration

Palmetto Place provides a safe home and resources for children to mend and grow.  Sometimes counseling is the most effective therapy for children, and sometimes we get a bit creative.

Jill, who has worked with Palmetto Place children for many years, describes a few ways in which Palmetto Place helps our children grow:

  • Pet Therapy
  • Mindful Meditation Classes
  • Self-Esteem Groups

“I've met many children,” says Jill, “Children who turn their trauma into hope or goals or survival.  Group homes are doing great things, but this is what makes Palmetto Place extra special.”

 

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The Teen's Big Bus Adventure

The Teen’s Big Bus Adventure So we’re going on a bus ride! The city bus, that is.

Learning to ride the bus and knowing about banks and bank accounts are part of our Teen Life Skills program here at Palmetto Place Children’s Shelter. Tomorrow, April 4, we’re taking on this challenge. It’s just as much of an adventure for the adults as it is for the teens.

Kat Heavner, our grad intern with the USC College of Social Work, is the mastermind behind the trip. She spent a significant amount of time mapping out our route. It’s not easy to just jump on a bus in Columbia and head to Five Points. You have to read more than one map to see the routes; you have to understand bus fares; you have to know how far you’ll have to walk to the bus stop and how far the bus lets you off from your destination.

Here’s the plan –

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We’ll be leaving Palmetto Place with 7 teenagers at 7:30 in the morning. We’ll walk to the bus stop IN THE RAIN and ride the bus to the station downtown, wait about 40 minutes for our transfer--IN THE RAIN--then pick up that bus to Five Points. Well, not exactly Five Points, but as close to Five Points as we can get--and we’ll walk to BB&T… IN THE RAIN.

Our friends at BB&T, Katy Bair and Allison Rapp, will give the teens a tour of the bank and show them how to open a bank account. A couple of teens will actually be able to open accounts while we’re there. Having a bank account is a huge step toward independent living!

Then we’ll walk over to Groucho’s for lunch. Bruce Miller is a wonderful friend to Palmetto Place and brings food to us several times a week. We’re excited to introduce him to the teens.

And, finally, we will head back to Palmetto Place, brains and stomachs full! I suspect we might need naps and some alone time.

It’s going to be quite an adventure and learning experience for the teens – and for Kat and myself. Join us on Twitter if you’d like! We will be posting our progress, observations, and comments from the teens along the way. We'd love to have you join in that conversation with us @palmettoplckids.

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The Artist's First Show

It was great to see so many of you at our Sweet & Savory fundraiser last week. What a fun event - and we raised lots of money for Palmetto Place Children’s Shelter. The event was a particularly special moment for one of our teenagers. When she first arrived several months ago, I couldn't believe that an 18 year old with no art training could have that level of talent. As I told her story over and over, I know many people didn't believe me – that she could be THAT good.

She did two beautiful pieces for our auction at Sweet & Savory – a stunning portrait that she’d drawn from a magazine photo and a whimsical colored-pencil drawing of a girl with big green eyes. They were magnificent.

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We framed them and displayed them on easels as you walked in the ballroom for our event. It looked like an art show. I had the honor of escorting this cool kid into the ballroom before the crowd arrived so that she could see her work.

She was speechless. It was such a special moment for her – to see her artwork displayed for the very first time in her life.

The green-eyed girl went into the silent auction, with lots of buzz around it all night. We saved the portrait for the live auction. Such a fun moment to watch her watching the crowd bidding on her artwork! Her masterpiece!

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After it was all over, she and I talked about the night. She said she’d never forget that moment – seeing people admire her art and pay money for it. Before Palmetto Place, I'm not sure anyone had told her she was talented and that her artwork is beautiful. Positive reinforcement goes a long way.

For a girl who three months ago didn't realize she was talented, this was a huge occasion. A celebration of who she is and the future ahead of her.

This is Palmetto Place – where we have the privilege of making memories and milestones.

It’s not a moment I’ll soon forget either.

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Forever Home

Note: Today's blog post is from a special guest, Ms. Tori Sizemore, Miss South Carolina Teen USA 2013. In the mind of every child is a dream; the one thing that towers above every other desire and expectation. Such fantasies are rarely forgotten or achieved.

My childhood dream- my heartfelt prayer- was to have a baby sister. Three brothers later, I accepted my life as the only girl, though my dream of a sister never faded. After years of prodding, my parents surprised me by exploring adoption. We were unprepared when we received a call from an attorney at nine o'clock in the morning.  A young woman who lived on the streets was giving up custody of her ten month old biracial baby girl that very morning. Little Sarah Ann needed a home that day. In a haze of shock and ecstasy, we went to pick up the little girl and by three o'clock that afternoon, I held in my arms the living, breathing answer to countless prayers.

The miracles continued, as fears like financial stability, legal complications and racial prejudice melted away. We knew Sarah belonged in our family, especially when we discovered my father, who is a pediatrician, had cared for her as a newborn. Ironically enough, our story continued when two years later, my father cared for twin biracial girls. The frail babies left the hospital and entered the foster system. We couldn't explain why, but my family knew we needed to care for them. Our family was too large too foster the twins, so the only other option required a court order. Many considered our case impossible, but after six challenging weeks and a miracle or two, we brought home Lexi and Leah as their foster-to-adopt family. The prayers I made during my mother's pregnancies each came to fruition; one curly haired princess for every wonderfully wild brother. I am reminded daily of the blessings of adoption: our family is complete and Sarah Ann, Lexi, and Leah are safe, cared for, and loved in their Forever Home.

I believe every child deserves the sense of security and love from a permanent family. It breaks my heart that over 4,000 children in South Carolina do not experience the enduring love they need. Children sit in foster care waiting for permanency because few people know how best to help them. That is why I created the program Forever Home. This program is designed to Educate, Inspire, and Equip people to change lives through adoption and re-unification. My life has been greatly shaped by adoption and as Miss South Carolina Teen, I desire to shape the hearts, minds and lives of the future. Adoption embraces the truths of equality, acceptance, and unconditional love that the next generation is seeking and it can transform the future of American families. My goal and desire is to see the next generation united to create a Forever Home for every child. The issue of adoption and unification awareness is a very personal, powerful message and it needs to reach as many ears as possible. I know that the Lord put me on the road to Miss South Carolina Teen USA to Educate, Inspire, and Equip the entire state and the nation.

Every child has a dream. For many, it is simply to have a loving Forever Home. Let's make it a reality!

Visit me at: https://www.facebook.com/misssouthcarolinateenusa

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Behind the Magical Door

Hi, friends! Today's post comes from Jill, our counselor...

During an afternoon therapy group with all of the residents, I was pleasantly surprised at how great our kids are at critical thinking. The activity started with each kid having a sheet of sketch paper, crayons, and good listening ears. I read them a paragraph that goes something like… “Imagine you are in a gigantic, magical castle. You find yourself holding a key and staring at dozens of locked rooms. Your key will only open one room and you need to find the matching key hole. After trying lots of doors, you finally unlock a door… Behind this door is a room that contains something that you’ve always wanted in life. It can’t be anything that costs a lot of money like a game console or an iPod. It has to be something that you’ve always needed but have never been able to have.” After each child finished drawing their picture of what their magical room looked like, they were anxious to share. One 5th grader drew a picture of his dad who passed away when he was an infant. An 11th grader drew people coming to his football game because he said he’s never had family to come watch him play football, but knew that would change this year because the staff at Palmetto Place would come. An 8th grader drew what peace would look like because everyone in her family is always yelling and unhappy. At that moment I realized that support, peace, and relationships were a basic need just as food, shelter, and clothing to these kids. Next time you’re in the car driving and have some down time, think about what would be behind your magical door…

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