Active, Provisional, and Sustaining members from Junior League of Orange County participated in the Mile In My Shoes or MIMS effort this year to buy 24 new pairs of new sneakers to be donated to emancipating youth through the Orangewood Foundation, one of JLOCC’s community partners. This program was meant to inspire a collective League effort while also showing support for Orangewood members and what they have been through.
Junior League members were asked to walk or run 480 miles from January 1, 2017 to April 2017, and each member was encouraged to track and log her miles. JLOCC members accepted the challenge, and logged all their miles with days to spare! It was a pleasure to see Provisional members, Active members, and Sustaining members walking side-by-side – learning from each other.
History of JLOCC and the Orangewood Foundation:
In the 1980s, JLOCC offered net profits from The Christmas Company (1980), which totaled $117,000, as a challenge grant to replace the overcrowded Albert Sitton Home for abused children. The community responded, and in 1986, Orangewood opened. Today, the JLOCC continues to be involved with projects at Orangewood.
The Child Abuse Services Team (CAST) program, in conjunction with the Orangewood Children’s Foundation, brought together the multiple social and legal entities involved in the processing of reported cases of sexual abuse of a child under one roof to lessen the trauma of the child victims. Also through the efforts of trained JLOCC and community volunteers, homeless and nearly homeless families in Orange County were guided through a comprehensive program that provided intervention directed at preventing chronic homelessness.
JLOCC worked with the Orangewood Children’s Foundation to assist foster children in making the transition from foster care to independent living. The Business Mentor portion of the program assisted the youth in finding paid, part-time jobs and matching the youth with business mentors. “Independent Living” workshops also were offered to help foster children gain skills necessary to live on their own.
Sustaining Members have partnered with the Orangewood Children’s Foundation to reach out to teenagers emancipating from Orange County’s foster care system. Over 300 teens emancipate yearly, and many lack the support system to help them finish high school and plan their future. To ease the transition into independent living, the Bear Hugs and Bear Necessities program provides emancipated teens with a duffel bag full of essentials, such as toiletries, towels, a blanket, stationery supplies, an inspirational book, calling cards, maps, a flashlight, and an alarm clock. In addition, the Bear Hugs and Bear Necessities program supports the Orangewood Resource Center (ORC) through their Independent Living Program (ILP) and the Rising Tide Community Program to provide support services focusing on employment, education, health, and housing. JLOCC members volunteer at ILP events such as “Independent City,” which educates teens on the basic skills they need to live in the outside world.
“Bridges to Higher Education” was a program offered through The Orangewood Children’s Foundation, was initiated to increase high school graduation rates and admission to college or trade school among dependent foster youth participants. The program matched students in grades 10 – 12 with mentors in the community. The mentors were advocates on the students’ behalf, with teachers, social workers, schools, care givers, etc. as well as being an advocate for education and exploring options after high school. JLOCC members planned 5-8 workshops throughout the year for program participants and mentors. Workshop topics included the following: Better Studying Habits, Test-Taking Tips, focus on the students’ goals of graduating high school and seeking opportunities to continue their post-secondary education. The JLOCC also works with Orangewood staff to organize educational field trips and tours of local colleges and universities.
Orangewood Children’s Foundation’s Mentoring Program partnered with the JLOCC to provide educational workshops geared towards life skills and topics for foster youth involved with the Orangewood program. The project hosted workshops that explored topics designed to support and encourage the young adults through critical periods of their lives.
Visit our website at http://www.jlocc.org for more information about our impact in the Orange County community.