Friday, October 21, 2016

2016 OHIO YAB October meeting and Officer Elections


2016 october ohio yab meeting from Lisa Dickson


Outcome of OHIO YAB Officer Elections for 2017:
President Stephfon Kennedy, Cuyahoga County
Vice President Melissa Stroud, Ashtabula/Mahoning County
Media Spokesperson - pending
Secretary Christian Roman, Montgomery County
Parliamentarian Damahri Carter, Franklin County
Treasurer Damiah Wade, Montgomery County



We will also have a team of Officers in Training, which will include:Amy Morlock, Allen County 
Charity McDonald, Allen County 
Malcolm Hazelton, Montgomery County
Ronnie Dotson, Franklin County
Alyssa Woods, Columbiana County
(and Dustin)


Please visit this link for additional photos.

Friday, October 14, 2016

2016 OJACC Conference




Ronnie Dotson and Damahri Carter did an excellent job during the 2016 OJACC Conference.

To see more photos, please visit:
https://goo.gl/photos/sMRgKXbhct2B8zmt6


2016 Ohio Fostering Connections Symposium

The following young people did a wonderful job on the Youth and Alumni Panel as part of the 2016 Ohio Fostering Connections Symposium:

  • Deanna Jones, Franklin County
  • Jermaine Ferguson, Union County
  • Laquita Howell, Hamilton County
  • Marissa Alcorn, Montgomery County
  • Melissa Stroud, OHIO YAB Media Spokesperson


To see more photos, please visit:
https://goo.gl/photos/RMVX8QABQgsUgGhH9

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Gabriel Young's Letter of Support for the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act

Good morning,

My name is Gabriel Young. I am the President of the Overcoming Hurdles Ohio Youth Advisory board, also known as the OHIO YAB. The OHIO Youth Advisory Board is a statewide organization for young people age 14-24. Our mission statement is that we exist to be the knowledgeable statewide voice that influences policies and practices that affect all youth who have or will experience out of home care.

I am writing to strongly support the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act. As a foster youth myself, it matters to me that over a thousand Ohio foster care youth “age out” of care every year. Nationally, this number is approximately 22,000.

Far too often, aging out of foster care means aging into homelessness. Foster youth want more than that. What we want most are opportunities to create a successful future.

I am a foster care alumni from Mahoning County. I emancipated the foster care system when I was 18 years old. I was still in high school, and had to work a full time job. This became a huge struggle for me. I had tons of bills pilling up and needed to work more hours to support myself and still go to school.

School was my main priority, but I needed to have a roof over my head and I needed to have food. So I had to make a tough decision either keep going to school or become homeless, so I choose to go to work so i could have somewhere to stay. I paid for my decision. I am graduating a year late, and missed out on 20,00.00 dollars in scholarships due to not graduating on time.

The Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act has my full support. I believe that it will improve outcomes for foster youth, decrease the homelessness rate for emancipated youth, and provide them with additional opportunities to contribute to and give back to society.

Gabriel Young
President
Overcoming Hurdles in Ohio Youth Advisory Board

Monday, September 12, 2016

Violet Ramunni's Letter of Support for the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act

Greeting and Salutations,

My name is Violet Ramunni I am a former foster youth who emancipated from Medina County Childrens Services in 2013, after spending the last 8 years in Medina County Custody.

Since my emancipation, I have lived in a housing program for homeless youth, Section 8 and currently reside with my former foster parents until I recive a ship date from The United States Navy.

I served on the Ohio Youth Advisory Board as Vice President from 2014-2015. Our mission is to be the knowledgable statewide voice that influences polices and practices that affect all youth who have or will experience out of home care. I also served on the National Foster Youth and Alumni Policy Council.

 I'm writing to ever so strongly support the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act. As a youth who emancipated out of the system over 3 years ago, I am now able to appreciate my journey since emancipation. I've grown as a person due to these struggles. What troubles me is that the number of fosters emancipating every year is 22,000.

The day of my emancipation, I moved straight into a homeless program for youth
because my county did not have programs like Independent Living or Vouchers.

The Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act would provide foster youth with more than just a house. We've been through too many houses and never a place to call home. Giving youth the opportunity to strive in college or work or whatever their choice is, is what really gets me excited.

I as a foster was not educated about what college really was. I knew I wanted to attend college. I had someone help me fill out my FAFSA and went to my college orientation by myself. Had I received any education toward the difference between a full-time or part time student, and tips on time management, I might have passed my first semester of college.

We all want to make something of ourselves and better our futures, whether you are currently in the foster system or aged out. This Act is a step in the right direction.

Violet Ramunni
Former OHIO YAB Vice President
Future Navy Sailor

Allissa Mitchell's Letter of Support for the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act

Good afternoon, Dan Hare,

 My name is Allissa Mitchell and I live in Stark County Ohio.

I represent the Overcoming Hurdles in the Ohio Youth Advisory Board (OHIO YAB), which is a statewide organization of young people (14-24) who have experienced foster care. The OHIO YAB exists to be the knowledgeable statewide voice that influences policies and practices that affect all youth who have or will experience out-of-home care.

I am writing this to state how strongly I support the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act. As a foster alumni, it matters to me that over a thousand Ohio foster care youth "age out" every year. Nationally, this number is 22,000. This program has my support, for it will not only decrease the homelessness in foster youth that age out every year, but it will also encourage youth to attend a secondary education. The less youth we have in homeless shelters, the chances of drug abuse and incarceration become much more slim.

Personally, I have been emancipated out of the system since my senior year of high school which was a little over a year ago. Housing myself is the biggest responsibility and hardship in my life. It has been an onward struggle almost from the get-go. I took online classes for massage therapy at Stark State last fall but quickly became overwhelmed from working as a behavioral interventionist and facilitator at a therapeutic center and the bills I had to deal with. Unfortunately, I did not pass that semester. If this Act had been used in my circumstance, I feel as if subsidized housing would have been an absolute huge help on my part. I feel as if I would have my massage therapy license by now.

The Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act has my full support. I believe that it will improve outcomes for foster youth, and provide them with additional opportunities to contribute to and give back to society.

Allissa Mitchell
Former two-term President
Overcoming Hurdles in Ohio Youth Advisory Board

Melissa Stroud's Letter of Support for the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act

Good morning,

My name is Melissa Stroud, and I live in Mahoning County Ohio; although I am originally from Ashtabula County. 


I hold the position of Media Spokesperson for the Overcoming Hurdles in Ohio Youth Advisory Board (OHIO YAB), which is a statewide organization of young people (aged 14-24) who have experienced foster care.

The OHIO YAB exists to be the knowledgeable statewide voice that influences policies and practices that affect all youth who have or will experience out-of-home care.

I am writing to strongly support the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act. As a current foster youth that is very close to turning 18, it matters to me that over a thousand Ohio foster care youth “age out” of care every year. Nationally, this number is approximately 22,000.

Far too often, aging out of foster care means aging into homelessness, whether it's being turned out onto the streets with no support or finding out that foster youth have no place to go when colleges go on break. Foster youth want more than that. What we want most are opportunities to create a successful future.

During our annual Three Days on the Hill trips to DC this past March, the meeting with Representative Michael Turner caught my attention the most. Not only did he seem interested, but he wanted to act as soon as possible. Personally, I support the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act due to the very many struggles foster youth have when trying to pursue their education. Education is an essential aspect of success in today's society; homelessness is one of many struggles foster youth have faced as far as attending their last year(s) of high school and trying to keep up with post-secondary.

I strongly believe this act has great potential to become an amazing resource for our future emancipating foster youth. It's so empowering to know that our statewide board has such an influence on our future generations of foster youth.

The Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act has my full support. I believe that this resource will tremendously improve success rates among foster youth, and grant them with additional opportunities to lead and give back to society.

Melissa Stroud
Media Spokesperson
Overcoming Hurdles in Ohio Youth Advisory Board

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Outdoor Youth Leadership Retreat at Paradise in the Sky



Link to slideshow of more pictures from our second youth leadership retreat at Paradise in the Sky: https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipMGlHXL7O3Lp46ggoltMgs1a4kbfSqYF1elbewH0kMF4qmN7OvCNWqbadtiXANffA/photo/AF1QipOzx3vnbgRbatMxJQ-0XV6A6Cx_kC56JB5xgNnM?key=S29kNFNHdzNoVTBRNjVuNkhZaXYyOVFLN0diR1RB

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Franklin County YAB



Foster care youth and alumni recently gained insight on the legislative process during the Three Days on the Hill event in Washington D.C. FCCS was represented by 19-year-old Akire Thomas, president of the agency’s Youth Advisory Council and Regina Douglas, director of FCCS’s Therapeutic Arts Program. “The trip was designed to provide attendees an opportunity to learn how to improve the lives of current and future foster youth by advocating on the state and federal level,” said Douglas.

After participating in training about lobbying with national experts from the Annie E. Casey Family Program, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare, the youth used their new skills and personal insights concerning the foster care experience to develop arguments for positive change. Then they met with state and federal legislators from Ohio and shared their concerns—the chief concern being homelessness among youth after aging out of foster care. Participants also attended a briefing on the Voices of Youth Count on Capitol Hill, which is a youth-led survey of homeless youth taking place in 22 counties across the country.

Being able to participate in the legal process as authorities on the foster care experience was an enriching experience for the youth who attended Three Days on the Hill. Former FCCS youth and current Starfish Alliance Vice President Jamole Callahan attended and felt the event was very educational. “The participants learned how policies and laws come into being, as well as how to effectively advocate for those who are voiceless,” he said. Akire felt empowered by the experience. “I’m inspired to advocate more for youth, especially teenagers who need support. I can also be patient about the process of making changes, since I now understand it better,” she said.

Learn more about the Franklin County Youth Advisory Board.

Joshua Hatch, FosterClub AllStar


Joshua Hatch is one of 25 youth who were selected to participate in the Foster Club All-Star Intern Program, a prestigious opportunity which allowed him to travel to Oregon to attend leadership and team building training, as well as participate in events throughout the country. These experiences gave Hatch and fellow interns the opportunity to share their personal stories and insights with current and former foster youth, as well as youth advocates.

After seven weeks of intense training, the interns attended the Oregon Teen Conference, where Hatch shared keynote speaking duties with another youth. He also participated in planning and facilitating foster youth conferences in Portland, Oregon and Tacoma, Washington. He will continue to participate in similar conferences throughout the year.

Hatch enjoys sharing his personal story and encouraging youth who are transitioning out of foster care. “I want them to know that they all have a place in life, regardless of their circumstances or history,” he said. “They can reach their goals.” When asked what he’s gained from the internship, Hatch said, “I think I’ve learned to have patience with people and listen to different points of view…I’ve also learned how to travel.”

While Hatch spent more than eight years in foster care, he has been able to take advantage of many opportunities available to him, including receiving FCCS’s 2014 Jack Donahue Scholarship, as well as his current internship. He is currently entering his third year at Wright State University, where he is majoring in psychology and is president of the Black Student Union, as well as a member of Kappa Alpha Psi. Hatch enjoys writing and performing poetry in his spare time.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Appreciation for the Dave Thomas Foundation

Arlene Jones, founding member of the OHIO YAB and ACTION Ohio member

Over the weekend, Ohio foster care youth and alumni leaders from all over the state issued themselves #TheSelfieChallenge to express their gratitude and appreciation to Rita Soronen and the Dave Thomas Foundation.

Melissa Stroud, OHIO YAB Media Spokesperson
MaryAnn Dowd, participant in Three Days on the Hill
Brittany Sergent, OHIO YAB Treasurer

Allissa Mitchell, two-term President of the OHIO Youth Advisory Board
Jamole Callahan, ACTION Ohio

Adrian McLemore, founding member and first President of the OHIO YAB
Nicole Chinn, ACTION Ohio Treasurer


Dorothy Dodson, former OHIO YAB Parliamentarian

Tatyana Rozhnova, ACTION Ohio

Doris Edelmann, OHIO YAB co-facilitator and ACTION Ohio Legislative Chair
Lisa Dickson, OHIO YAB co-facilitator and ACTION Ohio Communications Chair,
with Tyneisha, Brittany and Adrian at the 2011 Wendy's Wonderful Kids Summit




Monday, May 30, 2016

2016 OHIO YAB Mid-Year Retreat


During the 2016 OHIO YAB Mid-Year Retreat, officers accomplished the following:
  1. They updated the OHIO YAB Code of Conduct and Constitution (both were initially created in 2006, and have had minimal updates since then -- a ten-year-old Youth Board needs and deserves a second look at their founding documents)
  2. They brainstormed ideas for a future Media Policy to safeguard youth and ensure communication with adult supporters, so we can be informed about the opportunity and able to help prepare them and debrief afterward
  3. They reviewed proposed budget items, line by line, with an eye toward tools and opportunities to support foster youth leaders throughout Ohio
  4. They created a list of ideas for additional training modules that ACTION Ohio can develop and share with state, regional and county boards to help support foster youth leaders (such as: how to engage with the media and how to facilitate a meeting)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

2016 April OHIO YAB Meeting



Deeply impressed by the continued growth and development in each of our statewide officers:

  • Gabe as President, in fearlessly taking on the task of facilitating a meeting and making sure it begins and ends on time, and allocating just enough time to cover each topic. 
  • ReShawn as Parliamentarian/VP, who observes and attends to every behind-the-scenes detail, such his actions today in troubleshooting equipment, folding and perforating the business cards we had donated, and taking notes on everything that every attending youth said. 
  • Melissa as Media Spokesperson, who has navigated through her first and second news interview, and is currently preparing for her third (this process is not easy, and she gives her utmost to every moment). 
  • Kamry as Secretary, with her awesome insights and fresh new ideas about working on an OHIO YAB newsletter to send out in the future. 
  • Brittany as Treasurer who safeguards each opportunity afforded to her, and tries to figure out a way to help others.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

2016 DC Sightseeing and Journeys Home

Thursday was a day to relax and celebrate the many accomplishments that youth had made during their fourth annual trip to DC.

ACTION Ohio (Alumni of Care Together Improving Outcomes Now) was honored to sponsor and facilitate this week’s adventure.

2016 Legislative Visits - Day Two

Legislative Visits on Wednesday were followed up by a Celebratory Dinner, sponsored by Casey Family Programs.

2016 Legislative Visits - Day One

On Tuesday and Wednesday, youth visited 15 legislators' offices to share their two proposals.

2016 Three Days on the Hill - Training and Meeting with HUD and HHS

On Monday morning, youth participated in training, preparation and practice.

Followed by a 4 pm meeting at HUD Headquarters in Julian Castro's official meeting room that included their staff and representatives from Health and Human Services, including the head of the Children's Bureau.

Youth brought two proposals:

1. HUD-FASH:  A foster care housing program based off an existing successful veteran housing program. The youth asked that this program be implemented and made into an Ohio demonstration project (make it happen and we will show that it can work)

2. A proposal regarding Chafee, which is existing funding to help youth aging out of care, but has been flat funded since 1999 (meanwhile, the number of youth served is increasing)

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Joshua Hatch - Ohio Reach Student of the Month


Name - Joshua Hatch 
Institution Attending-Wright State University  
Classification -Sophomore 
Major -Biological Science
What made you decide to choose the program you are in?  Since I can remember I have always loved science, it’s a field that is always changing and evolving at a fast pace. Why not be the pioneer for something new.
Are you involved on campus? I am Secretary of The Black Student Union, Secretary of The Forum (an artist and poetry organization), I am also a member of the Independent Scholars Network.
What is the best thing you have gained from college thus far?  The best thing I have gained from college so far is experience. Life may give you lemons and you have the choice of what you want to do with it, make lemonade? Or be different and make lemon meringue pie.
If you could give advice to anyone who is thinking about college what would it be? If I could give advice to anyone who is thinking about college I would say go for it. In this type of economy it’s hard to get far without a degree and also college is a time were you explore a new life and find who you truly are. It’s a whole new world out there and college should only be step one. Strive for even more, you'd be surprised at how far you can go.

To learn more about Ohio Reach, please visit: http://ohioreach.org/ 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

OHIO YAB ~ Messaging in 2016


OHIO YAB Media Spokesperson Melissa Stroud recently invited member feedback and ideas when it comes to hashtags and messaging in 2016.

These are some of the ideas they shared:

  • #FosterLivesMatter
  • #YouthHaveAVoice
  • #TimeforChange
  • #ChosenFamily
  • #Adopt
  • #CanIHaveAVoice
  • #SpeakOut
  • #ImHome
  • #WhoIsFamily
  • #BeBraveBeBoldBelieveinYourPurpose
  • #WhyDoIStandOut
  • #LiveLearnLove
  • #ITT  #InThisTogether
  • #NormalLife
  • #IAmNotTheOther


Respecting youth's boundaries
They also came up with a great point about allowing youth to choose which hashtags they feel most comfortable with, when it comes to their personal social media postings. This might depend on whether or not youth choose to publicly disclose the fact that they are in foster care.

This is a great point -- we care very much about personal boundaries and Strategic Sharing, and never want to have a young person feel forced to share something that is uncomfortable for them.

Future ideas
  • Video with the #FosterLivesMatter
  • Share hashtags with schools through presentations
  • Make an app?


OHIO YAB ~ Member Goals for 2016


During the lunch break at the January 2016 OHIO Youth Advisory Board meeting, youth from all over the state had the chance to share their goals for 2016.

These are their personal goals:
  • #LoveYourself
  • Live... Laugh... Love
  • #StayStrong
  • Stay Positive
  • Become more hands-on during county YAB meetings
  • Provide youth workshops for our board
  • Become captain of my dance team
  • Pass the 11th grade with a good GPA
  • Graduate with a good GPA, good grades and all 27 credits
  • Graduate high school and start college for pharmacy
  • Graduate high school, move to Cincinnati and start college
  • Remove myself from toxic environment - and go to college
  • Keep up with keeping bad people out of my life
  • Stay in school for my senior year, and get good grades
  • Keep up my good grades
  • Get my GED before I'm 18
  • Keeping up my grades
  • Start college
  • Training more with my Sgt. for the Marines
  • Move closer to campus
  • Get a driver's license
  • Get a car
  • Complete my 3rd semester
  • Get a 20 or higher on my ACT
  • To attend college in the fall for Social Work
  • Save my money
  • Maintain financial sustainability
  • Get a new apartment
  • Get adopted
  • Get a better dance team
  • Get into Kentucky State University
  • Get a good paying job and keep it
  • Buy my first home and go to college
  • Stay strong -- and no matter where I go, remain positive
  • Adapt to all changes no matter what will come to pass

OHIO YAB ~ Member's Accomplishments in 2015


During the lunch break at January 2016 OHIO Youth Advisory Board meeting, youth from all over the state had the chance to share their personal accomplishments in 2015.

Ohio foster youth's personal accomplishments in 2015:

  • Started the Mahoning County Youth Advisory Board
  • Established a Youth Advisory Board in Guernsey County
  • Got accepted into college
  • Got accepted into Sullivan University
  • Got accepted into the University of Akron
  • Got accepted into four different colleges for fall of 2016
  • Got my first job
  • Passed all my classes this semester
  • Moved forward with a new and promising job
  • Filled out job applications
  • Broke my city track record
  • Became a softball pitcher
  • Got a good internship
  • Got my driver's license!!!!
  • Started and completed a semester in college
  • Moved into my first apartment
  • Became a senior without giving up
  • Became a role model - not giving up, staying strong!
  • Getting good grades
  • Graduated high school
  • Got an apartment
  • Got my apartment
  • Passed my SAT with a 1340
  • Took the ACT
  • Won $2K in scholarship money
  • Passed my OGTs
  • Got all my credits for school
  • Got straight A's to show my sister that she can do it too #RoleModel
  • Made it through my junior year with only going to school half the year (due to circumstances beyond my control)
  • Got my name changed finally
  • Changed my attitude and became a better me -- I pressed forward through tough situations, and learned how to handle them



2016 January OHIO YAB Meeting