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Reflecting on the Vulnerable

Vulnerability. Much has been said about it of late. We have learned a great deal about vulnerability’s importance for leadership, developing friendships, and human flourishing.

And as I reflect this Christmas season, it occurs to me that vulnerability is at the heart of the Holiday’s vital story. As a young girl, Mary embraces an assignment that is beyond her—bearing God’s only son. Then, great with child, she travels a long distance with her fiancé to an unfamiliar land and gives birth there. Finally, in her baby boy, God becomes a man and exposes himself to the human plight.

And as I reflect on his story, some of the most vulnerable children in our community come to mind. I am talking about foster children, who spend some or all of their childhood without a stable home life. Some seek temporary haven while parents get life in order, while others are forced to wait for a more permanent living situation once biological parents are no longer in the picture. Many fail to find stability and are sent into adult life with grave disadvantages.

The Cities, Counties and Schools (CCS) Partnership details shares the following unhappy statistics about foster children as they move to adulthood:
• “Within 18 months of emancipation 40-50% of former foster youth become homeless”
• “40% of foster youth complete high school compared to 84% of the general population”
• “Foster youth with multiple placements are 5-10 times more likely to become involved with the juvenile justice system than youth in the general population”

These troubling statistics point to our failures as a society. Even more so, they speak about untapped potential–members of our communities who were never really given a chance, whose voice is lost. Their loss is our loss.

One local organization, Rancho Damacitas has been working for a better future for foster children and emancipated foster children (i.e. those who have turned 18) for over 30 years. For some, the organization provides scholarships; for others, they provide a pathway to empowered independence. Lives are saved, and our community benefits.

Azusa Pacific students, faculty, and staff banded together to support the efforts of Rancho Damacitas last Christmas and will do so again this year. If your workplace or business is seeking an opportunity to help the vulnerable this Holiday Season, we invite you to join us and support this worthy organization. For more information, please contact them at (951) 302-2317 or 4kidsfirst.org.

Written by Dr. Drake Levasheff

Drake Levasheff, PhD, Senior Director, Murrieta Regional Campus Azusa Pacific University.
Contact: dlevasheff@apu.edu

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