the story of our year
As we reflect on the past year, we're filled with gratitude for the impact of our Peace4Kids' family.
A message from Zaid
My word describing Peace4Kids in 2022: Transformational
Over the past 25 years, we've anchored our work to a growth mindset, continuing to learn and adapt together. One of our mantras, "We're more like water than rock", has served us well in uncertain times.
Even with our ability to flex, I'm energized by 2022's profound transformational experiences and our youth who continue to guide the journey.
We started the year still reeling from the pandemic. As January came to an end, we shifted fully to in-person programming, re-connecting with youth and caregivers in a profound way that has had a great effect on our direction. Recognizing that young people were isolated and disconnected from their communities had the most significant impact.
At Peace4Kids, we've seen how a global crisis can compound a foster care experience, causing additional trauma and ACEs [adverse childhood experiences]. We've also witnessed the ability of our youth to provide anecdotes and solve problems, paving the way for brighter futures for all.
A powerful desire to create a new type of space for young people to grow and thrive emerged in 2022. Towards this goal, we're embarking on a project aimed at creating a restorative environment for young people to explore their talents and develop their gifts. This space is also intended to offer resources to support helping professionals in paradigm shifting their interactions with youth experiencing ACEs.
As we embrace this moment, we invite you to reflect on the past year and our community impact. I'm deeply grateful to our youth, lived experts, volunteers, allies and funders whose collective wisdom and support propels us forward.
In peace and possibilities ~
Our "Village" grows organically: engaged youth, committed volunteers and community leaders all contributing to shared success.
Through consistency, trust and deep vulnerability, we've formed life-long relationships.
More than 2,500 youth and caregivers attended our Saturday Program and various community events last year.
As a strengths-based organization, the activities youth engage in are centered around their individual and collective strengths and interests. Peace4Kids offers something different every Saturday; one week the little ones go fishing while the older youth attend college preparation workshops, the next week some youth build robotics while others take a museum field trip.
Through the pandemic, we shifted to an outdoor program model more out of necessity than intention, but watching our community thrive in outdoor settings was the silver lining!
Thank you to our community members for sharing their spaces and hosting memories that will live on for a lifetime.
Chadwick School | LA County Parks and Recreation | National Charity League, Palos Verdes | The Lopilato Family | The Pritzker Family | Richard Loring | USC Viterbi School of Engineering | Wolf Connection
As with any family, we took hundreds of photos this year. Here are a few favorites!
Dedicated and consistent support for young adults
Youth and young adults, ages 16-24, have the choice each week to volunteer, attend group gatherings, or receive 1:1 coaching support around requested topics. Our support team is available 24/7. Priority support topics include:
✔️ HEALTH & WELLNESS: Supporting social, mental, physical and emotional well-being by connecting to relevant resources and providing support. Establishing intergenerational relationships and life-long connections through monthly family dinners.
✔️ EMPLOYMENT & CAREER DEVELOPMENT: Providing job readiness coaching, career guidance, and connections to resources for job seekers.
✔️ HOUSING: Assisting in preparing for independent living, identifying viable resources, and navigating the relocation and application processes.
✔️ EDUCATIONAL & COLLEGE SUPPORT: Supporting and connecting caregivers with relevant opportunities and services while advocating for educational rights. Postsecondary coaching, application support, personal statements, financial aid and housing assistance.
2,356 hours of connection time with transition-aged youth were provided in 2022:
|Peace4Kids alum place great value on the safety, needs, perspectives and contributions of their community and peers.|
Increased caregiver support
Caregivers play a crucial role in providing physical, emotional, and social support to our youth. In addition, they play an essential role in coordinating and advocating on behalf of young people, serving as liaisons and supporting their various and frequently complex needs.
We've increased our support to our caregiver community, not only providing respite, but connecting them to key resources that ensure continuity of care.
Our volunteers are vital part of our community
As the heart of our community, our volunteers help us thrive and expand.
We employ a community mentoring model that embodies a "just in time" philosophy, where connections are relevant and relatable to youth's explicit needs at the time. This could result in the support of one or more volunteers simultaneously, in collaboration, or in succession.
We're expanding our reach, replicating ideologically
147 helping professionals participated in our immersive Heart Centered Justice Course designed for educators, health professionals, caregivers, administrators, social service providers and community members who support youth outcomes.
OUR GOAL IS TO PROVIDE SAFE AND SUPPORTIVE ENVIRONMENTS FOR YOUTH AFFECTED BY ADVERSITY AND TOXIC STRESS.
Our Financial & Operation Growth
We're thrilled to announce the hire of two new team members, increasing our capacity by 50%.
Precious Williams, MSW, has joined as our Program Manager and will be responsible for our direct services on a day-to-day basis. Having worked in diverse non-profit organizations and human services for more than 20 years, Precious brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our team. Her passion has always been working with youth and encouraging hope and resilience.
Jasmine Lamitte (pronounced La-Meet), LCSW, PPSC, will serve as our Director of Mental Health and Wellness. From her early days as a California-native, school social worker in Chicago’s south side to over a decade later, she has been committed to reducing the stigma of mental health and illness in Black and Latinx communities. Jasmine will develop our wellness systems and community supports from a healing-centered, resilience-focused, and liberatory lens.
Peace4Kids is proud to report another cycle of strong support from our amazing donor family, allowing us to expand our reach with greater impact.
We remain committed to fiscal prudence, maximizing donor contribution and volunteer participation to ensure sustainability and deliver quality programming.
Facing real challenges
The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for everyone, but especially challenging for children. Inequitable systems that existed prior were amplified by the uncertainty created by the pandemic. The last few years have seen us flex and shift to survive, but we must take action to mitigate long-term effects and thrive.
✔️ Mental Health & Wellness: A 2023 Pew Research Report identified that mental concerns top the list of worries for caregivers and parents. Research is just starting to emerge assessing the impacts of the pandemic on children's mental health. And while young people faced a mental health crisis before COVID-19 started spreading globally, the pandemic exacerbated the issue for many.
✔️ Perceptions of Youth in Foster Care: Young leaders from vastly different experiences in the foster care system unearthed an overlooked yet consequential idea: the people tasked with caring for us “think we are criminals.” The revelation shared was unsettling, but collectively true. What does it mean to navigate an unfriendly world and a child welfare system within that inherently views youth as the problem? Explore the story and research.
✔️ Access to Green & Blue Spaces: It's clear that green and blue spaces provide a respite from high-density urban settings that affect mental and emotional well-being. A new study shows the long term beneficial impact. The lack of parks in our community is no secret.
✔️ Lack of Affordable Housing: We experience the results of Los Angeles' affordable housing crisis on a daily basis. Young people are increasingly disadvantaged by housing disparities as they begin to navigate adulthood. Minimum wages are not increasing at the same rate as inflation in rent and the cost of basic living expenses. In the long run, struggling to pay rent for stable housing can lead to physical and mental health issues.
OUR FORWARD-THINKING EFFORTS TO MEET THE MOMENT:
Finding Home Project
We envision establishing a nature retreat center using evidence-based practices that promote mindfulness, healing, and collaboration. Our current efforts are focused on acquiring land and designing a youth centric space:
RESTORATIVE: Explore nature to heal the body from daily stressors.
RELEASE: Stress relief through arts, physical expression, and cathartic activities.
MINDFULNESS: Use evidence-based practices like breathwork to improve wellbeing.
TEAM BUILDING: Build connections and strengths, promoting compassion and growth.
While the retreat center is designed for short-term stays, Zaid will continue his work on the Commission for Children and Families, advocating for affordable housing in Los Angeles.
Heart Centered Educators
We aim to positively impact those professionals who influence the day-to-day lives of youth in foster care and those who have experienced ACEs.
UNIVERSITY CERTIFIED CURRICULUM: We'll continue to expand our reach through a certificated curriculum in partnership with Dr. Niki Elliott at the University of LaVerne. Through this curriculum, young adults with lived experience learn clinical approaches to mitigating the effects of ACEs and how to engage others in similar practices.
YOUTH DIRECTED: A minimum of 25 community members will be certified to implement our training with community stakeholders and county service agencies.
OUTCOME: Our community members will provide clinical training to helping professionals (caregivers, educators, health care providers, social workers, volunteers) in our approach.
Our research provides evidence that our unique approach to child welfare is a viable solution.
This assumption will be further validated by qualitative data in the future. We'll collect stories about how our model has impacted alumni and volunteers' lives and achievements during our 25th anniversary.
By telling our stories in these narratives, we'll continue to build momentum in replicating our model ideologically.
Featuring intergenerational leaders with foster care experience and distinct expertise, ROCMove focuses on changing how youth in foster care are framed and represented in media.
As ROCMove produces podcasts, engages in community outreach, and collaborates on topics such as healthy relationships, building family and navigating the struggle, we'll lead the way in shifting perceptions through our unique perspective.
"Kasserian Ingera" in Swahili means, "And how are the children?" The traditional greeting acknowledges the high value the Masai place on their children's well-being.
Even modern Masai with no children of their own give the traditional answer, “All the children are well,” confirming: We live in peace and safety, protecting the young and powerless is our priority, and we are mindful of the purpose and responsibilities of our society.
We are deeply grateful to our 2022 donors
Your support is critical to our mission, and we are honored that you have chosen to invest in our work. Your donations are used with care and thoughtfulness to make a meaningful difference in our community.
🤍 most program photos courtesy of Hannah Arista Photography