Sunday, May 15, 2016

May is National Foster Care Month

There are over 6,000 children in foster care in the Bay Area and 60,000 in California. I think foster parenting is one of the most important way you can contribute to making the world a better place and have a tremendous impact on a child's life. This topic is very close to me since my mother participated in foster care for two decades and made the lives of dozens of children better.

Seneca Family of Agencies was founded 30 years ago in the Bay Area. The agency helps at-risk children and families in the region with a multitude of challenges. Below is a profile of one of their San Jose foster parents, Beatriz Alvarez. For more information on how you can get involved, please visit the Seneca Center website.

Beatriz Alvarez is excited about what's to come next in life. That's because she's in the process of becoming a certified foster parent, fulfilling a dream that has its roots in her early childhood. As the second youngest of 14 children, it was a struggle and a bit lonely, as ironic as it seems being in a big family. It's comparable to being lost in a crowd. It was during that time, at about 10 years old, that Beatriz remembers gravitating toward young people in need and learning about orphanages, a term less used now in the U.S., but often still used in many foreign countries. In fact, her mother had been raised in an orphanage in Mexico from age five to nine years old, and learning about it had an impact on Beatriz.

As Beatriz grew up she became involved in volunteer work with kids, the homeless and others in need. She also has a son, now 23 years old. Beatriz also became close to fiancé Marco Vazmendes and he learned of her interest in foster parenting. Without prompting, Marco did some research and learned about Seneca Family of Agencies in San Jose, an organization that was founded in the Bay Area more than 30 years ago to help children and families overcome life's biggest challenges. Not only did Marco learn about foster parenting and advise Beatriz, he enthusiastically joined her in the foster parenting certification program.

They have both enjoyed the process, which includes classes and a wide range of topics to help them learn all the ins and outs of being foster parents. Beatriz and Marco don't have a preference about fostering a boy or a girl, but their current thinking is a child in the age range of seven years old. They are excited about the joys that lie ahead, the opportunity to help a young person have a better life and how it will enrich their own lives.

For more information about foster parenting and foster-to-adoption call Seneca Family of Agencies at 877-380-5300, or attend Seneca's Community Foster Care Day event on Saturday, May 14, Noon-to-3pm at Mayfair Community Center, 2039 Kammerer Avenue, San Jose.

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