There are 163 million modern-day orphans in the world. Three thousand of them are in the OC, a place where I would assume most of us call home. Consider this: 7.4 billion people in the world, 2.2 claim to be Christian. Even if 7% of Christians cared for an orphan, 93% of the church would be able to provide guidance and support making orphan care a very solvable crisis.
There are more churches in Orange County than orphans and that could solve our local crisis if each cared for one child. Although a single, 23-year old college grad with no room or space to make any strides in order to adopt or care for a foster youth, there are so many opportunities available to me where I am able to serve and play a part in this cause.
Two years ago, I don’t know how or why, but I signed up to be a counselor for foster teens. I never thought I was good with kids, let alone teens who tower over me and are just a few years younger, but I did it anyway. No push or pull or someone to join me, but I felt a strong desire to participate. Even though camp is short term, it has the ability to change lives. One word you say can resonate with a kid later on in life and can have power to change an attitude, action, or state-of-mind for the better. As training sessions went on, I was a little intimidated. I would be paired one-on-one with a girl who I would be attached to the hip with. That alone freaked me out because as an only child, I never had to be tied to anyone and I just wasn’t used to being around a brother or sister or let alone another human for extended amounts of time.
I’d like to say that the young lady I got paired off with definitely challenged me, but it was such a rewarding feeling knowing that she enjoyed her time at camp and had time away to just be a kid. I can’t get into too much detail, but it was definitely a tough experience. For most of us. (I even sprained my ankle at camp going too hard in the cafeteria, too excited to get salad.) Every year, the kids get a photo album of photos of themselves. Due to strict privacy rules, no one else can be in the photos with them and we absolutely are not allowed to have any photos of them, but it’s always so great seeing the kids take these home since not many have these memories to keep for themselves. My girl even said she hated all the pictures and was going to throw them all away, however when I pretended to look away I noticed she stashed it away with care in her bag.
These teens are people who aren’t in the system because of what they did, it’s just that bad things have been done to them. Also, think about high school. Think about the hardest times you had in high school and now multiply that by 10-15 because you attended 5+ other high schools prior to this and the teachers all expect you to know the topics, you have to make new friends, and you want so hard to be able to fit in. Whether it’s emotional, sexual, verbal, or physical abuse, there is a reason why they are here and why they need to be shown unconditional love with biases aside. It’s the law that these teens have people caring for them whether it be social workers, attorneys, or group home staff. Not saying there’s anything wrong with these amazing people, but it’s very rare that there is someone who is not paid to care for them. This mentality alone can change the relationship that a foster child has. It’s not uncommon for them to be cynical: they have had a lot of people disappoint them in their life, but to know that someone chooses to be present and love them because they really want to can open many doors and change mindsets.
This year’s camp requires $500 in order to pay for the child, the materials, and the me, the counselor. It would be great if you would consider helping me and my peers achieve this goal. I’m happy to announce that I am returning this year as the camp photographer, getting the images you read about above to print for the kids’ books that they’ll receive that the end of camp. (Hopefully I do well. The goal is that no kid tells me they hate them and wants to throw them away!!!)
Another option is you can purchase prints of my work from a little town I visited in Portugal in April.
Postcards: 5 for $15, 10 for $25, all 15 for $35
Press-Printed Super Thick: 5×7-$15, 8×8-$20, 8×10-$30, 11×14-$40
Giclée Prints on Fine Art Paper: 8×10-$30, 12×16-$50, 20×30-$75