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The Crowd: Helping find homes for foster children

March 11, 2011|By B.W. Cook
  • SMILES: Robin Otta with Joyce Simon
SMILES: Robin Otta with Joyce Simon

"I attended a recent gathering of foster children who have reached the emancipation age of 18," said Eric Hasemeyer, attending Monday's "For the Love of a Child" fashion show and luncheon benefiting Childhelp.

"The event brought together 300 18-year-olds leaving foster care and setting out to make lives for themselves," he added. "Do you know what the statistics are for 300 foster kids reaching the age of emancipation? Out of the 300, within only a few years, 273 of them will either be homeless, incarcerated, and/or addicted to some form of alcohol or drugs."

Eric joined his wife Jaci as the honored guests of the Childhelp event receiving the annual Children's Friend Award. The couple accepted the honor with grace but not holding back the truth concerning the real problems faced by foster children in California and elsewhere.

The Hasemeyer's have raised their own children at their home in Riverside, in addition to fostering more than 30 additional children coming to them from difficult circumstances. Out of the 30 children, they have adopted 10. In addition, they have worked nonstop to find qualified parents to bring into the foster care system.

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Later in the afternoon, in a private moment, Jaci said, "Our purpose is faith-based. Despite all the negative aspects of the foster care system, my husband and I believe that it is not the government that has the answers, but instead there are 50,000 churches in California, and presently there are about as many kids that need a foster home. If we could just encourage one family, one decent family, in each of those 50,000 churches to take just one child, the fate of the world would most definitely change for the better."

The powerful and emotional path of the Hasemeyer's was in stark contrast to the jubilant mood of the annual fashion show fundraiser, which took place at the Island Hotel in Newport Beach, and was chaired by Diana Miner and Mary Allyn Dexter. With the dedicated help of Childhelp volunteers in Orange County led by Childhelp National Board member Patti Edwards, and Orange County President Pam Pharris, the event sold out with more than 400 guests attending. It raised an impressive $180,000.

A major part of the success is due to the participation of South Coast Plaza, represented at the event by executives Debra Gunn Downing and Kathryn Glassmyer.

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