I had the pleasure of speaking with the authentic, passionate and selfless Diana Brown this evening on my Blogtalkradio Podcast. Diana is the president and founder of SOAR for Youth. After a very successful career in IT including Fortune 100, education and government Diana was inspired by comments a friend had made about being a foster child. Her friend had experienced abuse at the hands of their aunt who was also their foster parent. The story changed Diana’s life as she felt that she needed to do something about the situation facing foster children.
Diana approached the issues facing foster kids the same way I would imagine her approaching any challenge she had faced in the business world. She spoke to faculty involved in Social Services and gathered other information about the problems. Armed with this information she devised a 3 year summer program to help these kids in need through a partnership with UC Berkeley. The program she created and implemented with the help of plenty of volunteers provides the kids with anything from basic life skills education to college preparation. When the kids arrive at camp they are quiet and keep to themselves but by the end of the week they are laughing and enjoying themselves the way kids that age should be.
I listened to Diana tell her story at a Rotary meeting Tuesday. Tonight it really sunk in how committed she is to making a difference. She doesn’t get paid and most of the people who work with her are volunteers. She is extremely frugal working to ensure that the money that is raised goes into changing the lives of these kids. I feel very fortunate to have heard her story, it has inspired me in many ways. I would encourage you to listen to the interview and if you feel compelled to support SOAR some how please consider it. If you have the opportunity to volunteer, I believe it will be a life changing event for you.
- What did you learn that will help you the most this next year?
- Learn to love myself.
- Just to look at things from a different point of view.
- English and Math classes and stress relievers.
- That you are never alone and there is always a way to survive and be very successful.
- That even if you don’t see some interest in some things you should not just back away from it, give it a try…
More information about SOAR:
SOAR for Youth was established in February 2009 to provide high quality support, opportunities, and rapport that foster youth would have otherwise received from their parents. One of the goals of SOAR is to help foster youth become independent and productive members of our society.
Through a summer residential academic enrichment program that uses teaching, coaching, counseling, outdoor adventure activities in collaboration with the University of California at Berkeley, community foster youth organizations, and Bay Area children services agencies, SOAR helps teenaged foster youth gain the knowledge, skills, and confidence needed to pursue post secondary education and succeed. It is a three-year program. Once selected, each youth is invited to attend three summer camps (Prepare To SOAR, Learn To SOAR, and Time TO SOAR). In addition, SOAR stays connected with the youth throughout the following academic years, providing sustained support and attention to encourage their progress.