More than 200 guests joined the St. Louis Family & Community Partnership in celebrating all who give of themselves to care for children in foster and adoptive care at the Stepping Up for Kids luncheon on Oct. 10 at the Forest Park Golf Course Clubhouse.
From left, St. Louis Family & Community Partnership Co-Chair Mike Fitzgerald; honorees Bev Schaefer, Barb Bocklage, Sara Glasscock, Yvonne Peoples, Sako O’Rourke and Evelyn Holder; and Partnership Coordinator Ruth Ehresman of Vision for Children at Risk.
Stepping Up for Kids awards were presented to resource families and front-line agency staff for providing outstanding service to children. Emcee Mark Reardon of KMOX Radio led the presentation of awards to:
- Hisako O’Rourke, Missouri Children’s Division, 13-year veteran, called the “consummate social worker” for extra effort in behalf of children
- Beverly Schaefer, Lutheran Family & Children’s Services, with 29 years of service at LFCS and 13 more as a foster parent, praised for her warmth and making people feel at ease
- Barbara Bocklage, south St. Louis County, for utilizing community therapeutic and educational resources for children in her care
- Sara Glasscock, Florissant, for giving generously to the more than 100 children she has fostered and remaining in contact with them after they leave her home
- Evelyn Holder, Imperial, for teaching independent living skills to young women and maintaining contact with their biological families
- Yvonne Peoples, St. Louis, for working tirelessly with troubled youth and serving on the Assertive Community Treatment team
Guest speaker was Pat O’Brien, founder of You Gotta Believe! of Brooklyn, N.Y., an agency dedicated connecting youth aging out of foster care with resource parents who commit to remaining permanent parts of their lives. In his talk, he discussed the challenges of working with youth who have experienced trauma, and have trust issues due to being separated from their birth families. He offered four points of advice:
- “The key is within”—The solution for healing comes from within the family and understanding how any issues you have as a parent may affect your response to negative behavior.
- “PUKE (patience, understanding, kindness, empathy)”—Understand that when children act out, it is nothing personal against you. When providing discipline, be firm and structured. Be nice rather than vindictive.
- “Every child must have a parent committed to them throughout their life”—If youth are discharged from the foster-care system to no one but themselves, they are unsafe. You Gotta Believe! looks for adults already in the child’s life in some way who will make a lifetime commitment to them.
- “Every child needs a parent to teach them what to do and what not to do”—Pat told of how his mother influenced the development of his moral compass. After Pat’s remarks, Partnership co-chair Mike Fitzgerald added a story of how New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter always carries a contract he signed with his parents (who were social workers) as an adolescent committing to stay out of trouble.
Thanks to the Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition for bringing Pat to St. Louis and making him available to the Partnership as part of FACC’s year-long 25th anniversary celebration.
Thanks to the Central Visual & Performing Arts High School jazz ensemble for providing music. Thanks especially to the agencies that supported the Stepping Up for Kids luncheon by purchasing tables:
Blue Ribbon Sponsors
- Children’s Permanency Partnership
- Family Resource Center
- Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition
- Great Circle
- Missouri Alliance for Children & Families
- Lutheran Family & Children’s Services
- Missouri Coalition of Children’s Agencies
- Missouri Baptist Children’s Home
- St. Louis College of Health Careers
- Youth in Need
The St. Louis Family & Community Partnership is a coalition of child-serving agencies, courts, schools, elected officials, parents and others working together to prevent child abuse and provide safe, nurturing permanent homes for children.