A modern day fairy tale unfolded for foster participants at this year's annual rites of passage held Sunday, July 19, at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center. The HerShe Foundation honored seven debutants and 14 ladies in waiting.
Over 300 invited guests were summoned via invitations where they enjoyed a pleasant social hour of music, conversation and a delicious meal. This will intrigue anyone familiar with the universal story of Cinderella.
The auspicious occasion set the stage for the timeless moments of the charming young ladies that posed under the trellis of the audience, while walking arm-in-arm with their presenters, dancing the waltz in their beautiful gowns, with their well dressed and well-mannered male escorts.
Assemblyman Rod Wright presented the organization with a proclamation for their service and commitment to foster youth. Following the reception, the evening continued with a special address to the young ladies from actress Nia Long of "Love Jones," and "Third Watch." She encouraged the young ladies to follow their dreams and shared her own personal experiences and challenges which led to her success as an actress.
Actor Robert Gossett, who plays Commander Taylor on TNT's highly, rated series "The Closer," and "Kenadie Corbin Richardson," the executive director and founder of the organization hosted the event and introduced the young ladies to the audience by sharing their goals and special names given to them illustrating a personal characteristic of each girl.
Throughout the night the girls recited their own original poetry illustrating some of the personal struggles they have faced in their young lives; performed contemporary dance pieces, and offered tributes to their program mentors.
In preparation for the Cinderella Ball, each young lady was required to take part in an intense two-week boot camp training facilitated by the HerShe's Group, and one-on-one mentoring designed to make a significant impact in the lives of the diverse group.
The training focused on key areas for success, including personal and social development, self-esteem, forgiveness, etiquette, college and job preparation, health and nutrition, relationships, effective communication and self-advocacy.
There is an ongoing need for foster parents, especially those who can care for sibling groups, teenagers and those with disabilities.
Also provided was a video screening where the young ladies shared stories of why they were in foster care.
Each message brought out the reality of how difficult life is for many young people in foster care.
The night concluded with a party celebrating the 21 young ladies. This was indeed the making of a 'true to life' fairy tale celebration for the 21 young ladies.
Foster care is designed to be a temporary placement for children when their parents cannot care for them. Foster families make an incredible difference by providing safe and caring homes for children and teenagers who have endured abuse and neglect.
It also provides positive parenting styles, learning social skills through constructive role modeling, developing educational, and emotional skills so that young ladies can discover their strength and potential for their future success.
Each year thousands of young ladies are emancipated from the Foster Care system and left to fend for themselves.
Many lack the support, training and resources to succeed on their own. Seven out of ten will be homeless and 60 percent find themselves incarcerated within one year of emancipation. Only one out of ten will attend college, and out of that number just one out of 100 will graduate.
These are some starling statistics, but The HerShe Group Foundation is helping these young women beat the odds and succeed in life.
Established in 2004, The HerShe Foundation has empowered the lives of more than 200 young women through mentorship and training programs designed to teach program participants how to survive on their own.
The HerShe Foundation partners young women ages 15-19 with female mentors who are professionals that have made an impact in their various professions.
Each mentor spends a significant amount of time with their mentees exposing them to one-on-one personal time, activities, and special events.
The mission of the HerShe Group Foundation Inc. is to prepare girls in foster care to successfully transition into adulthood through the performing arts, mentoring, college-readiness and exposure to extraordinary experiences.
HerShe services include life-skills and leadership training, academic support, emotional development, pregnancy prevention, book publishing, and entrepreneurial training.
The Cinderella Camp and Gala are sponsored by Los Angeles County Second District Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and the County of Los Angeles.
To become a financial donor or mentor please contact the HerShe Group Foundation at (877) 460-5508, or visit them at www.HerSheGroup.org.