Our participants come from various family backgrounds. One thing that they have in common is the enormous challenges they have had in their lives. Despite these challenges, these youth have managed to rise above. Here are some of the statements made by those who recommended the youth to SOAR. (Names of the youth have been changed to give them privacy)

Mary’s Story

“ I first met Mary seven years ago, when her brother was placed in my home soon after their removal from their mother…Mary is the glue that holds her family together… Her care taking of others and her constant awareness of everyone else’s needs has been a tremendous asset to her family, but often her own needs are ignored…

Mary’s home life, while a wonderful example of stable family life, provides little stimulus for Mary and her academic potential is unrecognized… When I mentioned this program and said the youth stay in college dorms for a week, she was beside herself with excitement.”

Stephen’s Story

“I have known Stephen for several years, and I have been his educational representative for over one year. Stephen is a bright young man who enjoys learning and physical activities such as skate boarding and football… Stephen would like to attend one high school (he has attended several elementary and middle schools). He would like to play football and get a high school diploma. He has a sincere interest in attending college and possibly earning a scholarship…. The program would expose him to what college has to offer.”

Angela’s Story

“I have had the pleasure of knowing Angela since the end of January. She was assigned to my caseload in dependency investigations after her family faced a crisis involving physical abuse, domestic violence, parental substance abuse, and parental mental illness. The complex issues facing her family are not unlike many children who come into foster care but Angela’s positivity and determination to persevere are unique…

I think that the SOAR experience will allow Angela to develop new relationships with peers who have had similar experience and will enable her to continue to build her self-esteem and her scholastic abilities.”

Vera’s Story

“Vera has academic potential and ambition. Vera was an honor student in middle school. Yet, she lacks the necessary positive support system in her home and social environment that will further those aspirations… Her academic performance volleys with her home situation…

This program–an entire week stressing academic achievement without obviation of the importance in developing social skills–can instill a more permanent desire to succeed that is unaffected by a changing home and social environment.”

Lore’s Story

“I believe Lore would be an excellent candidate for this program because she is caring, compassionate, and passionate about doing her best. Due to her mother’s diagnosis with terminal cancer Lore does not receive the support she needs from home…. In this past year I have seen Lore overcome many obstacles…. I am very proud of her progress. I believe the SOAR academy this summer will be helpful to reinforce the benefits of academic success and provide additional support through positive friendships.”