In The News

In the News

02/16/2016 - Tea Time with Orangewood

Read about our 2015 Holiday Tea fundraiser in this month’s edition of Coast Magazine!

Click here to read the story.

01/22/2016 - Sex trafficking victim: ‘Just because I was beaten or raped … that’s not all that I am’

Oree Freeman, advocate and survivor of sex trafficking, is helping us design our program for these young woman called The Lighthouse. If you haven’t heard or read her story yet, here is a great write-up!

Click here to read the story.

01/14/2016 - Diego’s Story

Sophomore Samueli Academy student Diego* is a quiet, reserved 15 year old with a low-key disposition and soulful eyes. He loves to play guitar and skateboard, he has a solid group of friends, and he is looking forward to his 16th birthday this month. At the Academy, he is an engaged, attentive student, who works hard for his good grades and wants to start a guitar club. But before he transferred to Orangewood’s charter high school in the second semester of his freshman year, things were much different for him.

When he was young, Diego lived with his mom and dad and three older siblings. His parents often fought, sometimes physically, his mother abused drugs, and by the time Diego turned eight, his parents had been deemed unfit to take care of their children. He spent a few months in the Orangewood Children and Family Center (the county shelter formerly known as the Orangewood Children’s Home) before being placed with an aunt and uncle. Between the ages of eight and 12, in addition to the shelter, he lived with two different family members, and finally with a foster family. He attended four different elementary schools, and two middle schools during this time.

After the first semester of his freshman year of high school, Diego’s foster parents decided to transfer him to Samueli Academy. His first semester at the Academy was a turning point. With the small class sizes, focus on hands-on real world learning, and personalized attention from faculty, Diego found it easier to engage in school. He quickly developed friendships and relationships with teachers and faculty, and started applying himself in school. He regularly attended the after-school and Saturday “Homework Club” where he could get help when he was struggling, and quickly brought his grades up from a C average to As and Bs. The difference, he explains, is not just the teaching approach, but the way the teachers and faculty care about the students as people. He even describes Sarah Davis, the school’s Student Success Coordinator, as someone who “cares on another level… [she is] more like a mom than anything else.”

Diego has big dreams for his future, now, too. He wants to go to college to major in business and minor in art. When we asked him what he wanted to do with his degree a little smile flitted across his face. “I want to open my own business…something with skateboards.” Head of School Anthony Saba says, “Diego has faced more adversity in his life than most young adults his age. His continued success despite these challenges inspires me on a daily basis, and I couldn’t be more proud of him.” Way to go, Diego!

*Not his real name. Because he is still in foster care, we cannot share his real name or show his face in photos.

01/14/2016 - The Anaheim Ducks End the Year in Style

Daily Pilot Article on our Anaheim Ducks “California Country” themed fundraiser last month.


Click the link below and scroll down to the second half of the page to read the story!

Click here to read the story. 

01/12/2016 - Ambassador Luncheon

12/25/2015 - Orangewood youth named one of OC’s “Most Influential of 2015”

Oree Freeman was 11 years old when she became a victim of the sex trade. After four years she was able to leave that life with the help of Jim Carson of Orangewood Foundation. She has since graduated from high school and is currently attending college. Read about how her transition from sex trafficking victim, to survivor, to advocate made her one of the Orange County Register’s “Most Influential of 2015.”

oree freeman picClick here to read the story!

12/17/2015 - Raquel’s Story

The holiday season can be especially hard for current and former foster youth. Images of loving families and abundant presents can be a reminder of what they don’t have. But the upcoming holidays don’t seem to be getting Raquel down. Raquel and her two-year old daughter, Nevaeh, will be receiving Christmas gifts from Orangewood, thanks to those who donated to our Holiday Gift Drive. She’s excited to celebrate Christmas with her daughter, and she’s looking forward to next year, when she hopes to land her first big job.

As a teen, Raquel didn’t feel cared for by those closest to her. Her father was physically abusive, an alcoholic and a drug user. Her mom struggled to provide for her nine children both financially and emotionally. When Raquel was 13, she and her siblings were placed into foster care. From age 13-18, she had five different foster care placements, and attended five different high schools. Feeling like she had no place to call home, Raquel would often run away from her foster care placements and go stay with friends or older siblings.
It was during this period of her life that Raquel was introduced to Orangewood. “I came to Orangewood because I heard I could get a toothbrush and some food,” Raquel explains, “but I kept coming back because it was the only place I knew I could get emotional support.”

Since then, Orangewood has continued to help and encourage Raquel. When she decided to go to college, Orangewood staff helped her enroll (even driving her to the campus) and provided scholarship money. Now in her second year at Cypress College, her goal is to get her A.A. degree, transfer to Cal State Fullerton, and become a social worker so that she can help kids navigate the foster care system. She still visits the Orangewood resource center for emotional support, hot meals, and groceries when money is tight. Through it all, Raquel is working hard to give her daughter a better childhood than the one she experienced. “She is so smart. I know she can grow up to be strong and independent. The biggest thing I can give her is to know what it feels like to be loved unconditionally.”

When asked to describe what Orangewood means to her in one word, Raquel pauses for a while. “How do you find one word that means everything? I just love you all so much for everything you’ve done for me!”

12/03/2015 - PALS Holiday Party

Date: December 2, 2015

Click below to view photos from the PALS Holiday Party!

12/02/2015 - 44 Women Peer Mentor Bowling Party

Date: December 02, 2015

Photos from the 44 Women Peer Mentor Bowling Party are below!

10/15/2015 - Mark’s Story

Mark is a full time student at Cal State University Fullerton, majoring in psychology with a minor in art. He has a calm, quiet confidence, big dreams for his career, and he spends his free time giving back to the community. Upon meeting him, you would never guess that just six months ago he was basically homeless.

Trouble began for Mark and his seven siblings when he was young. His mother was battling a mental illness and the family also experienced abuse from the stepfather. Mark’s mother began to struggle with paranoia and moved the family around, which caused the children to switch schools frequently. Mark went to a different school every year. Despite this, he loved school, and always kept up his grades. “School was my escape,” Mark explains, “it has always been the place where I could get away from all the bad things happening at home.”

Eventually, Mark’s mom was deemed unfit to take care of her children. The youngest five siblings went to live with his stepdad, and Mark and his older sister were placed in foster care. When Mark graduated from high school, he entered community college.  Without a support system, or much preparation to live on his own, he spent two years couch surfing or sleeping in his car, partying, and falling behind in school. When his GPA dropped below a 2.0, Mark knew he had to make a change.

Mark was familiar with Orangewood Foundation from having attended Independent Living Program workshops while he was in foster care. When he decided to get back on track, he turned to Orangewood for help. With Orangewood’s guidance and financial support, Mark brought up his grades, and transferred from community college to Cal State Fullerton. In April of this year, he was accepted into our Rising Tide housing program, and moved into an apartment. Since then, he has been working with a Rising Tide staff member on increasing his savings, and he has saved almost $7,000 in six months! He plans to apply this money to graduate school. When he graduates with his Bachelor’s degree in psychology in the spring of 2017, he will be the first person in his family to graduate from college.

Mark has also shifted his focus in life to giving back. This summer, he studied abroad and volunteered in Guatemala, teaching English to 4th-6th graders, leading art workshops, and teaching basic writing skills to a group of indigenous elders. He joined the Peer Mentor program at Orangewood so that he could serve as a role model and a support system for his peers who are still in foster care. He wants to go to graduate school to study clinical art therapy, with the hopes of one day becoming an art therapist for abused children.

“Orangewood to me is like a family,” Mark says. “They are the real home I never had. My life before Orangewood was dark, and full of sadness. Now I have lightness, happiness, a supportive foundation, and most of all, hope.”