Ronny Edwards, a shareholder and litigation attorney at Lowndes, currently serves on the City of Life Foundation Board of Directors. In recognition of National Foster Care Month, Ronny shares how having adopted and foster siblings led to his commitment to help better the lives of children in foster care.
When did you first get involved with City of Life Foundation and what attracted you to this organization in particular?
My involvement with the City of Life Foundation began in late 2018. After serving on the board of Family Services of Metro Orlando, which was the lead agency contracted to handle the state's child-welfare cases in Orange and Osceola counties, it was important to me that I find another organization working to help children in the foster care system. My parents were foster parents for much of my life, and I have an adopted sister. At a very young age, my eyes were opened to the many challenges that a large number of children in the foster system face. With its focus on helping foster care children successfully transition to adulthood and integrate into the community, the mission of City of Life Foundation really resonated with me, so I jumped at the opportunity to serve on the board.
How have you benefited from your involvement?
Without parents, kids “aging” out of foster care are often left on their own to figure things out and fend for themselves. Through my involvement with City of Life Foundation, I have the chance to work with our amazing staff, volunteers and community partners to provide these young adults with much-needed guidance and support to help them succeed in adulthood. It is very rewarding to be part of an initiative that helps this special group of young people pursue their dreams and become valuable contributors to our community.
What are some of the most important activities/work that City of Life Foundation does?
City of Life Foundation’s main goal is preparing youth to live on their own, and so we focus on providing a strong support system of caregivers, schools, case managers, community resources and employers. As a grassroots organization, we also outreach to local employers and educate them on the challenges faced by youth coming out of the social welfare system in the hope of partnering with to find innovative and viable solutions. One of our most well-known and longest-running programs, Each One Help One, offers employment training and opportunities at local career placement organizations and companies to better prepare these young adults for success in the workplace. Over the years, the program has placed hundreds of youth in job shadows, internships and jobs.
What do you hope that the City of Life Foundation will achieve in the near future?
Community partnering is really at the heart of our program, and I hope that we can continue to expand our network of businesses and organizations that are committed to helping those exiting the foster care system. Increasing our education efforts and outreach to the community will help us gain new partners so that we can provide these young adults with even more tools, resources and opportunities for success in life. Collaboration with our community partners will also help us to identify new and changing challenges and find potential solutions.
Do you have any additional message to share?
All children are special and deserve the opportunity to thrive and succeed in life. By coming together as a community to support those who aging out of foster care, we can make a real difference in the lives of these young people as they journey into adulthood.