Opportunities come and go, but for Natalie Murillo, her recent opportunity has been taking her places. Natalie purchased a 2012 Honda Accord with the support of the Opportunity Passport™ program. Natalie says she is thankful for the help she got because it would have taken her two to three times longer to save the money she needed to buy her car.
Not only did Natalie save money, she now saves time. “Growing up in the system, you are always on someone else’s time; going to work and appointments.” She shared freedom is a luxury that comes with owning a car. “Now, I am able to choose when and where I want to go,” said Natalie.
With her own savings in hand, Natalie was able to double her money through the program’s match savings funds. Ready to make her purchase, she met with Opportunity Passport Coordinator, Gerardo Novoa. She says Gerardo stayed with her through the entire process, from keeping in touch online until she drove off the dealership car lot. She is very thankful for the funds and support she received through the program and recommends anyone looking to purchase a car using Opportunity Passport stay connected to the staff.
“Keep in touch, one simple email,” she said. Although moving around from time to time can be part of life, Natalie highlighted, the support team from the Opportunity Passport™ program is there for you, not matter what the circumstance.by
FAAZ Young Adult Board Member, Frank Smith, challenged Joe Jacober to “live foster care” through the FAAZ Day in the Life challenge. Joe’s challenge was to be patted down for an entire week every time he entered his home. This challenge reflected one of Frank’s own experiences while in foster care.
Frankly, it was humiliating. Walking into my own house and being patted down seemed sad. For what reason was I being patted down? What are you looking for? What do you think I am hiding? Don’t you trust me? These were the thoughts going through my head each time I came home,” Joe shared.
When asked how this challenge enhanced Joe’s understanding of the experiences some youth in foster care could face, he responded, “Having been a foster parent for more than 15 years, I thought I had a grasp of the issues faced by youth in foster care, but this challenged surprised me. It is amazing to think that any child or young person would have to experience something like this. If there is such a lack of trust between me (or the youth in foster care), how would we ever have a growing and nurturing relationship if every time you greeted me you were saying … ” I don’t trust you”. Not exactly a welcoming feeling.”
The Day in the Life blog series, is an effort spearheaded by the FAAZ Young Adult Leadership Board, to raise community awareness of the need for normalcy within foster care, supported under the Federal Strengthening Families Act (SFA). Moreover, with SFA, foster families have the support and trust they need to create “normal” living environments and experiences for youth in their care. This helps develop open and compassionate relationships between caregivers and youth to create trusting and stable relationships.
“I am often approached with questions about being a foster parent, but rarely about what it is like to be in foster care. I learned that I need to be much more open and mindful of the experiences youth in foster care, especially older youth, may be going through, if I truly expect to be a good advocate for them,” Jacober.
A special thank you to Joe Jacober and Frank Smith for sharing their “Day in the Life” experiences!by
FAAZ Young Adult Leadership Board Member, Stefani, is creating generations of advocates as her family traveled to Washington D.C. for ZERO TO THREE’s Strolling Thunder Conference. Stefani, her husband Luis, and their two youngest boys, Christopher and Casper, represented Arizona as they joined babies and parents nationwide to “stroll up and roll up” to Washington and meet with their Congressional members.
The ZERO TO THREE, Think Babies Campaign, is focused on promoting the healthy development and foundation of babies in the first few critical years of their life through the promotion of early childhood programs and services.
Stefani and her family received a sponsorship through Southwest Human Development (SWHD), a local nonprofit dedicated to early childhood development, to attend Strolling Thunder. Stefani shared with members of Congress the positive impact Southwest Human Development’s Healthy Families Program had on her family, helping her and Luis prepare for what to expect as new parents.
Stefani and Luis also spoke with Arizona’s Congressional leaders and staff on what it takes for families to raise healthy babies, including awareness of developmental milestones and early intervention.
Stefani is a proud advocate for the well-being of children, youth and families and hopes to inspire others to “stroll up and roll up” for the health and welfare of generations to come.by