On Thursday, October 19, Grow Into You Foundation will be hosting its fourth annual gala at the Winthrop Barn Theatre in Riverview as both an in-person and virtual event. Beginning at 7 p.m., this event’s ‘Fear Not’ theme will honor young adults who have aged out of the foster care system and passed through this organization’s program, signifying their first steps into adulthood and independence.
In addition to celebrating their ‘graduation’ by walking across the stage, Grow Into You Foundation gifts the young adults memorabilia and pictures that are reminiscent of their time in the program. Furthermore, graduates can present videos highlighting their individual journeys and successes.
“It’s a really cool opportunity to very intimately get to see where these kids were and where they’ve come, and to see it through their eyes of what has been valuable to them,” said Erin NeSmith, Grow Into You Foundation founder and lead coach.
Founded in 2016, Grow Into You Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that focuses on offering adolescents who are in or have aged out of foster care, primarily 18 to 23-year-olds, the tools necessary to make informed and independent decisions while charting their own path forward. While coaching conversations are also facilitated over the phone, texts and Zoom, NeSmith said she often speaks with kids the most over shared meals.
As a certified life coach, NeSmith has developed a three-pronged plan to empower these adolescents to take control of their lives: helping them shift their perspectives, restoring power and planting hope. Aiming first to alter their attitudes toward their present situations and goals, NeSmith then focuses on emphasizing that each individual has the freedom to prioritize their choices and plan their next move. Lastly, planting hope focuses on challenging these teens to overcome obstacles while maintaining confidence in their abilities.
“I tell them I can support anything that’s healthy and safe,” said NeSmith. “So, it’s giving them the tools to be able to move forward and get over blocks that might be in their way, and identifying those blocks, talking through those blocks, making plans and putting things in place that help them with success.”
The foundation also provides life-giving experiences, which are initiatives that work toward instilling kids in the program with more positive experiences, often through providing them with traditions; some of these traditions include its annual Thanksgiving potluck and Christmas party. Furthermore, networking is made possible by the foundation through its Volunteers at the Ready program, which allows members of the community to help kids with everyday errands or finding employment.
For more information on Grow Into You Foundation and its upcoming gala, please visit www.growintoyoufoundation.org.