(ANCHORAGE) – Today, Representative Les Gara and Facing Foster Care in Alaska (FFCA) are launching the Laptops for Foster Youth Holiday Drive.
"My laptop has helped me to stay on track in my college classes, and stay in touch with all of my siblings," says Sarah Redmon, a foster youth who received one of the laptops donated through this effort, and now attends college at the University of Alaska Anchorage.
"While many of us are spending time with our families and enjoying Christmas and holiday festivities, foster youth are faced with the bitter reminder that they are separated from their families, though no fault of their own, during the holidays," said Gara, who grew up in foster care after his father was killed when Gara was six. “Foster youth unfortunately are often highly mobile, some changing placements dozens of times while in care and often in the middle of the school term. A portable laptop helps with school stability and helps youth stay in contact with relatives and friends to create some level of stability.”
Gara started this year-round volunteer effort three years ago with foster youth advocate Amanda Metivier, executive director of Facing Foster Care in Alaska, a former foster youth, and a Master’s Degree graduate from UAA. Through generous community support, the effort will have matched over 300 computers with youth by the end of the year.
"Matching a foster youth with a laptop offers them the opportunity many foster youth, who live with few material possessions, just don’t have," said Metivier. “That’s an unfortunate reality that we are trying, though foster care reforms we’ve worked on with Rep. Gara and the Legislature, and through volunteer efforts like this, to change. Some youth have been bounced between over twenty placements. This drive helps those with disrupted lives be just a normal youth with a computer.”
This volunteer program has resulted in hundreds of donated laptops, and donations from the public used to buy new laptops. One anonymous donor donated well over $10,000 to enable the purchase of more than thirty computers, and another has just announced it will donate funds for twenty more. The Alaska Office of Children’s Services helps this effort by identifying the foster youth in most need of laptops.
Kate Giard, director of Anchorage’s LAP foundation, notes: "We believe providing laptops to Alaska’s foster children will enable them to excel at school and also maintain important family connections."
"With 2,000 foster youth, we have to keep this effort going," said Metivier.
Donated late model or new laptops should:
1. be not more than four years old;
2. have a word processing program;
3. have internet capability; and
4. work VERY well (remember, if it’s too slow for you, it won’t work for a foster youth)
To donate a laptop computer, please call Rep. Gara’s office at (907) 269-0106, which will accept donations or arrange for a drop-off with Facing Foster Care in Alaska.
You may also donate funds to buy laptops. The computer and cash donations will be made in the name of Facing Foster Care in Alaska, and are tax deductible.
Contacts: Sarah Redmon: (907) 748-1845
Amanda Metivier: (907) 230-8237
Rep. Gara: (907) 250-0106.
Rep. Gara and Sarah Redmon in the Capitol during the 2013 legislative session.