BCFS’ Lubbock Transition Center celebrated the high school and college graduations of 19 youth in foster care and those who have aged out of care with a luncheon followed by a shopping spree for the youth to purchase adulthood necessities like towels, bedding and kitchenware. This annual event, called “Hope Chest,” not only recognizes youth for their accomplishments, but equips them with items they need for their next steps towards adulthood and independence.
LUBBOCK – On Wednesday, June 18, BCFS’ Lubbock Transition Center celebrated the high school and college graduations of 19 youth in foster care and those who have aged out of care with a luncheon followed by a shopping spree for the youth to purchase adulthood necessities like towels, bedding and kitchenware. This annual event, called “Hope Chest,” not only recognizes youth for their accomplishments, but equips them with items they need for their next steps towards adulthood and independence.
At the Target shopping spree, thirteen high school graduates, each armed with $550 in store credit and a list of practical household items, were accompanied by a staff member or volunteer helping them navigate the store. They had to calculate a 15% discount provided by Target before heading to the register. Six college graduates each received a $1,000 Target gift card.
BCFS’ Lubbock Transition Center Director Kami Jackson described the event as emotional and uplifting, filled with lots of hugs and happy tears. “The youth we serve become part of our family, so coming together to celebrate their achievements is a special homecoming – something many of them will remember the rest of their lives,” said Jackson.
Four alumni of the transition center’s programs gave speeches at the luncheon, held at Experience Life church, sharing stories of their time in foster care, inspiring other youth to overcome obstacles to pursue their dreams, and to “rise above the label of foster kid.”
All the high school grads have a plan to go to college, four of whom have already been accepted to Texas Tech University. Nationally, only 2% of youth in foster care ever graduate college, so in a particularly emotional moment at the luncheon, the grads were congratulated for “breaking the mold and beating the statistics.”
At the shopping spree, each youth is given a budget and a list of items to buy. Youth do not have enough money to purchase everything on the list or buy all name-brand items, so it is up to them to decide what is essential and how much they are willing to pay.
“One of the coolest things about our Hope Chest shopping experience is that it teaches youth the importance of money management,” said Jackson. “It’s important for us to create these parameters and give our youth a list to stick to for a couple of reasons. For one, most 18 year olds don’t automatically think of needing to buy sponges or dish detergent. And two, if we didn’t put guidelines in place, I bet every youth would walk out of Target with a big screen TV instead of a shower curtain. The former is obviously not an essential.”
According to Jackson, Hope Chest is made possible by donations from Experience Life church, Betenbough Homes, Diekemper Family Foundation, Community Partners of Lubbock, Big Plate Restaurant Supply, and several local families and individuals.
For teens aging out of foster care, the BCFS Lubbock Transition Center offers more than “one stop” ease to accessing resources and assistance. Similar to the role of a parent or adult mentor, the transition center teaches youth basic life skills, like how to manage a bank account or rent an apartment. They also offer career training and connections, educational assistance, literacy-boosting programs, and more. To learn more about the BCFS Lubbock Transition Center and Hope Chest, visit www.DiscoverBCFS.net/Lubbock.
To support Hope Chest and the work of the transition center by donating, contact Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie at (806) 792-0526, give securely online, or send checks to 125 Chicago Avenue, Lubbock, Texas 79416.