In The News

In the News

06/21/2016 - Erica’s Story

Erica Crop

Erica is the first person in her immediate family to graduate from college. Soon, she will be the first person in her extended family to work towards an advanced degree. But before she was introduced to Orangewood Foundation, she never even considered attending college.

As a child, Erica experienced frequent instability and neglect. “Ever since I was born,” Erica explains, “and even before then, my mom has been addicted to something.” When Erica was six, she and her siblings were taken from her mother’s care, only to be returned two years later when her mother got sober. Though her sobriety lasted for a few years, her mother would often disappear for long periods of time. Because Erica was the oldest girl, she took on a mother role with her younger siblings.

Finally, when Erica was 15, she and her siblings were taken from their mother’s care for good. Erica and her younger siblings were placed in the care of their aunt and uncle. As the stability in her life increased, Erica was able to focus on school for the first time in her life. As she saw her grades improving in high school, she began to consider going to college but says, “I didn’t think I could go to college because of my life circumstances.” It was around this time that she was first introduced to Orangewood Foundation. Looking for a stable adult who could help her navigate life changes and think about college, Erica asked for help from Orangewood’s Mentor Program and was matched with Tami. “Tami is like a mother figure to me – hard-working, family oriented and very supportive.” Almost six years later, Erica and Tami continue to talk, text or meet once or twice a month.

With the support of Tami, Orangewood staff, and her aunt and uncle, Erica applied to and was accepted to Cal State Fullerton. She says, “The Orangewood scholarship provided financial security, so I didn’t have to worry about how to pay for school or my next meal or rent.”  Today she is a college graduate with a bachelor’s degree in human services. When asked how it felt to graduate from college, she described it as “surreal.” One of her favorite parts of her graduation day was when her younger brother (who attends our Samueli Academy charter high school) told her he was inspired by Erica and now wants to go to college too.

The good news didn’t stop at Erica’s college graduation. She’s off to graduate school! After applying to several graduate schools, she was accepted by her first choice, UCLA, and will be pursuing her Master of Social Welfare this fall. Orangewood will continue to help her reach her educational goals through a scholarship from our Advanced Studies Program. For her career, Erica plans to do policy work in the area of child welfare or juvenile justice. When asked what Orangewood’s support has meant to her over the years, Erica’s voice falters and her eyes tear up. “I’ve never felt so taken care of,” she says. “I feel so supported and like I have so many advocates. You guys don’t just care about the success of former foster youth, you really care about each one of us as people.”

04/07/2016 - Orangewood Names Academy after Samuelis

Read about the closing of our first Capital Campaign for our charter high school, Samueli Academy!

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03/23/2016 - 2016 Anaheim Ducks Casino Night

Read about our 2016 Anaheim Ducks Casino Night fundraiser in this month’s edition of Coast Magazine!

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03/15/2016 - 44 Women for Orangewood 2016 Scholarship Luncheon

03/14/2016 - Nathalie’s Story

Nathalie is one of Orangewood’s great success stories.

A 2011 graduate of Cal State Fullerton, Nathalie worked as a preschool and kindergarten teacher before joining her husband Sean in their own business. Happily married for more than four years, the couple also owns a condo (Nathalie credits her money management skills to the budgeting classes she took through Orangewood) and looks forward to starting a family some day.

Yet 20 years ago, a seven-year-old Nathalie was taken from her mother and stepfather after enduring years of physical and sexual abuse – abuse that she thought was “normal.”

During her time in foster care, Nathalie was introduced to Orangewood Foundation, whose mission is to help foster and community youth reach their greatest potential. She participated in a number of programs through Orangewood, including Independent Living Program workshops, which cover topics such as budgeting, relationships, education, careers and more.

Orangewood also helped Nathalie afford college by providing her with scholarships and connecting her with grants that covered 100% of her expenses. “These scholarships were crucial and allowed me to focus on school and graduate in just four years,” notes Nathalie. Orangewood staff member Khani also helped Nathalie navigate the college process. “If It weren’t for these scholarships and Khani’s help, I would probably have given up on college.”

“I know there are many reasons my life is going so well,” says Nathalie. “But I firmly believe that Orangewood Foundation is one of the key factors in my stability and success, along with the love and support of my husband and former foster family.”

03/02/2016 - Amway/Nutrilite

March 2016

Last October, Orangewood Foundation named Amway/Nutrilite employees Outstanding Volunteers of the Year. Amway/Nutrilite has been supporting Orangewood Foundation in a variety of ways for over a decade. Every month company employees cook and serve a delicious, healthy meal for our youth in our on-site Resource Center, and give a birthday gift to those with recent birthdays. Many of our youth have developed friendships with the Amway/Nutrilite volunteers and have found comfort in their interaction and presence. Amway/Nutrilite has also provided services and resource to help our youth find jobs, including volunteering at our career fairs and taking our youth on a tour of the Amway/Nutrilite facility. Recently, company employees have even joined our Mentor Program, so they can further their relationships with our youth and make deeper, positive impacts on their lives. We are so grateful for Amway/Nutrilite’s support and commitment to our youth, and look forward to the next 10 years!

02/16/2016 - Tea Time with Orangewood

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

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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!

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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!

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