June 2, 2014 (Scottsdale, AZ)
At Angel MedFlight, Joy Walker is a Salesforce Administrator, but away from the office she is an active volunteer. She volunteers with Hope & A Future, a local nonprofit Christian organization that serves abused and neglected Arizona foster children by providing programs that help them realize their potential and achieve their dreams.
Joy got her start volunteering for Hope & A Future four years ago. She felt that she should be doing something in foster care and learned about the organization after a video presentation at her church. Joy knew this was what she was looking for. The first year volunteering Joy met her now husband at camp and the two of them share the passion of working with foster youth.
Joy participates in programs like their summer camp program called Royal Family Kid’s Camp (RFKC). Each summer foster youth between the ages of 7-11 get to leave their foster homes or group homes and attend this wonderful weeklong camp. The children spend this special time with compassionate camp volunteers providing them with love and care as their “surrogate” aunts, uncles, grandmas and grandpas. During the week the kids all participate in a “birthday bash” with cake, gifts, games and fun! Joy says some of the kids have never had a real birthday party before. Other activities include talent shows, archery, crafts, campfires and bible study.
The group also sponsors an event called Teen Reach Adventure Camp (TRAC) for foster youth that have suffered abuse, neglect and abandonment. These three-day camps are designed to help give the youth a positive outlook, by encouraging teamwork, communication and respect, while participating in fun activities like horseback riding, a low-level challenge course and being able to care for animals.
Joy says she sees the kids get off the bus at the beginning of camp, skeptical about it all, but soon they become comfortable enough to let their guards down and have fun. She says, “a week of camp is better than a years worth of therapy for them.” Joy also participates in the organization’s other programs like their Princess Program, where a local salon does the girls’ hair and make-up and girls pick out gowns and shoes. Joy recalls helping one little 14-year-old girl pick out a gown, when the little girl told her she’d never worn any kind of dress in her life. Joy says that hearing stories like that make you really appreciate what you have in life.
Hope & A Future also offers a year-round mentoring program for children 15 and older that help them achieve the life skills that they’ll need as adults. According to the organization’s website, Arizona has over 10,000 foster children and each year over 725 children ‘age out’ of the system when they turn 18. 1 out of 5 becomes homeless. 1 out of 4 becomes incarcerated. Only 58% graduate high school. Only 3% graduate from college. If you would like to volunteer your time, donate or just learn more, please go to: Hope & A Future.