Last Saturday, over 100 Peace4Kids volunteers, alumnae, caregivers and supporters came together to celebrate the indelible bond created by the Foster Care journey.
Steve Yablok and the Fais Do Do family graciously hosted, providing a deeply intimate and connected space. Daniel Lopilato and band filled the air with musical light, love and energy. Thanks to Chloe’s Clean Cuisine, we shared an amazing community meal. Chloe’s original, whole foods, vegan recipes and menu align with the Peace4kids philosophy around sustainable food equity.
The tribe’s energy was palpable – tenured and new volunteers spoke to the immediate sense of belonging and the divine nature of connectivity. Each volunteer was acknowledged with an “I wish every day was Saturday” commemorative t-shirt.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as we honored Deirdre Lopilato, Antwoine Laws, Jenny Serrano and Angelica Nwandu - 4 generations deeply impacted by the Foster Care experience. Each shared the value and reciprocal benefit of Peace4Kids, their personal evolution, and the ability to create legacy and change in the child welfare system.
We capped off the evening by expanding our Heroes Circle – and receiving a $50K investment from Angelica Nwandu to launch our transitional aged housing program.
80% of Peace4Kids service delivery is selflessly contributed by our amazing volunteer family. We’re deeply grateful for your continued and collective support – accelerating an internal revolution and impacting the community forever.
While all young adults struggle with finding their voice and their path, those with a history in foster care have complexities that are hard to understand.
Typically, the relationships with intergenerational allies – both biological family and friends, help us navigate this difficult transition to adulthood. But what happens when these allies are non-existent? What if those who went before us are the reason why we question our very existence? These are the questions highlighted by our very own Angelica Nwandu & Jordana Spiro in what LA Times dubbed an "Emotionally poignant film".
The Director, Jordana, is a former Peace4Kids volunteer and supporter. The co-writer, Angelica (Angie), is an alumna of Peace4Kids and currently sits on our Board of Directors. I do not endorse this film because of my personal ties. In fact, my deeply connected relationship to Angie made watching this film a much more painful experience.
I have mentored Angie for the past 15 years of her life. I have witnessed her attempt to anchor her story and heal from the pain of her past. I have watched the dynamics with her sisters shift while her doubts sent her into the darkest corners of her soul. I have also witnessed her find the light and transform her pain into inspiration. Intimately knowing the darkness has given her the ability to see opportunity where others are too afraid to go.Continue reading
Everything I believe about food, I learned from a five-year-old. It was her lesson, twenty years ago, that gave birth to our food justice campaigns.
In the early days of Peace4Kids, we were only a garden -- the 99th Street Elementary School Peace Garden. I was in my early 20s and a very strict vegan. This caused friction with many of our youth’s parents and caregivers because at all of our program activities, we allowed only plant-based foods to be served. When the children questioned this, I would explain about the food ecosystems and the impact meat has on our health, as well as the environment. As a result, they began requesting plant-based diets at home. This led to nightly calls from angry caregivers during dinner time. The complaint was always the same, “You made these kids not want meat?! Then you need to come over here and feed them.”Continue reading
Nourishing The Seeds
Foster care creates a rich yet tough soil where youth must learn to advocate for themselves in order to survive. Through community nourishment, youth gain the power to transform the landscape of their journey. This is the beautiful challenge of the work of Peace4Kids.
Discover the Possibilities
Imagine having your deepest and darkest secrets being shared with strangers before you even meet them. Now imagine having to rely on these strangers to help you navigate the trials of life. Your past becomes your present and determines your future. The trauma(s) become your identity.
For our youth, these traumas live in the case files that are exchanged from social worker to social worker and foster home to foster home. One young man recently asked, “How can they see my possibilities if all they ever heard about are my struggles?”Continue reading
MY VOICE MATTERS
In honor of Mother’s Day, and our 20-year anniversary, Peace4Kids co-founder Marni Otway shares how she found the courage to use her voice to expand the Peace4Kids model to New Zealand.
I met Zaid 20 years ago and was immediately drawn in by the power of his voice. When he spoke, people listened intently. His confidence and relatability were undeniable. He seemed to be comfortable with all types of people and could engage with them on a deeply personal level. He was everything that I wished I could be. He became my confidante, my partner and my guide. It was this relationship that led to the creation of Peace4Kids and it was the youth that inspired me to expand to New Zealand.Continue reading
An Invitation from Miriam Cortez
Peace4Kids Program Coordinator
Saturday, May 19th | 5:00pm - 8:00pm
Showcasing original artwork in honor of National Foster Care month.
Back Umbrella Tattoo Gallery
12951 Main Street
Garden Grove, CA 92840
A 20 Year Reflection from our Co-founder and Executive Director Zaid Gayle
At Sunday’s Family Dinner, we encouraged our Teens and mentors to share a time in their life when they felt stuck. When they knew that their mind was holding them back, but also trying to tell them something profound. They were asked to share that feeling with someone close to them and to come up with an “I am” statement that reflected the change they were looking to make - an affirmation that would help them transcend their current state. For the past 20 years, mine has been “I am present.”Continue reading
At Peace4Kids we’ve had a very busy and productive year.
Each day, our youth inspire us to be more present and aware of the gifts they bring to the world – and in the process, teach us to recognize our greatest selves.
In honor of this holiday season, it is our privilege to share an example of these gifts through a short story of 6 yr old Peace4Kids member Derrick.