Country Club’s Melissa Howard knows firsthand the impact Everyday Blessings can have on a child in foster care.
Howard adopted her sons, 14-year-old Jayden and 15-year-old Cameron, three-and-a-half years ago. She met them through Everyday Blessings, a nonprofit focused on providing care for children and young adults in the foster care system.
While volunteering for the nonprofit, she saw how it helped children like her sons feel supported and cared for on its campus in Lithia, Florida.
Howard, along with Lakewood Ranch’s Marina Wolf-Schmidt, are hosting a fashion show May 19 to support Everyday Blessings’ Springboard Program, which provides housing for 18- to 22-year-olds in the Extended Foster Care Program.
The Springboard Program leases fully furnished one-bedroom units to them at an affordable amount in Sarasota. The individuals receive life skills training, tutoring, mentoring and therapeutic services as well.
“There is a huge lack of foster homes for teenagers and the 18 to 22 year olds,” Howard said. “Once you’ve been in a group home for years, if you talk to the kids, they don’t want to be supervised. They don’t want to live in a group home, they want to be a little independent. This bridges the gap where they will still have weekly contact with somebody, but they will be living independently.”
The fashion show, which will feature clothing from Monkee’s of Lakewood Ranch, will give Howard, Wolf-Schmidt and Richard Stroud, the CEO and executive director of Everyday Blessings, an opportunity to not only financially support the nonprofit but also spread awareness about its mission.
“It’s a real blessing,” Stroud said. “A lot of (the young adults) are from tough areas. That’s why we focus on putting them in a nice, safe area. That’s an absolute must for these kids, that they feel safe. They often haven’t felt safe in the past. We can’t do any of our other programming or any other assistance to these kids until they actually have a roof over their head.”
Stroud said the proceeds from the fashion show will allow the Springboard Program to put funding toward finding more housing as well as purchase furniture and home items.
Wolf-Schmidt, the former owner of Kiddie Academy of Lakewood Ranch, said as a business owner, she always wanted to support local businesses and nonprofits as her way of giving back to the community. She said she understands the struggles a small, local business can have, which is why she is looking forward to supporting Monkee’s of Lakewood Ranch.
“I feel so blessed in my life in many ways,” she said. “I know how challenging it is on good and bad times. … This is my time to give back right now. Who knows, maybe this will be (a fashion show) we do every year.”