Lf to Rt, Brother Ken Younger standing with Program Coordinator Natalie Sposato, and Mr. Chauncey Strong, the Master of Ceremony, and guest.
Lf to Rt, Brother Ken Younger standing with Program Coordinator Natalie Sposato, and Mr. Chauncey Strong, the Master of Ceremony, and guest.

Psi Alpha Alpha Chapter, Third District, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

Springfield, VA, The Bernie L. Bates Foundation, Inc. in partnership with Psi Alpha Alpha Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. participated in the Department of Family Services, Foster Care Program celebration for the 2017 High School graduates.

On July 21, 2017 the Grand Ballroom at the Waterford in Springfield, buzzed with excitement and happy chatter over a low mix of upbeat tunes. Framing the space were posters that celebrated the uniqueness of each graduate.

Fourteen young people were recognized last Friday at the annual Fairfax County Department of Family Services, Foster Care Program High School Graduation Celebration.

For the young people in this room, children who were removed from their biological families due to a range of abuse and neglect and moved between foster and group homes, the challenges that stood between them and a diploma were significant. Graduation rates for children raised in foster care are 49.6 percent less than the national average and the statistics on college graduates are even lower. Having a high school diploma significantly increases the range of job opportunities and earning potential. Instead of giving up, these students continued to move forward. In spite of all they have been through, they achieved this milestone. “Because of their hard work and the support of people both in-and outside of this room, they were able to be here to graduate.” The room cheered at the words of Chauncey Strong, Fairfax County Foster Care and adoption supervisor.

Nine graduates were celebrated in person, each toasted by a member of their social work team and given an opportunity to say a few words. There was clapping, cheering and even some tears. Adults expressed pride in their young charges’ accomplishments and the young adults, both shyly and exuberantly, showed their own pride in themselves and appreciation for the support they had received from the support group represented in the room.

The event, planned by Natalie Sposato, Fairfax County Department of Family Services, life skills coordinator, was intended to keep this milestone from going unnoticed. “A high school diploma can never be taken away. It’s something that should be acknowledged and celebrated,” said Sposato. Together with the support of the Department of Family Services staff and members of the community, the event included a buffet, giveaways, certificates and speeches. Moreover, at every opportunity, the proceedings were paused to give all of the graduates’ one more big cheer.

Director Kenneth Younger, representing Bernie L. Bates Foundation, Inc. and Psi Alpha Alpha Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. was present at the graduation ceremony and presented each graduate with a Community Recognition Award for their accomplishment and a $25 gift certificate. This is the second year our organization has collaborated with the Fairfax County Department of Family Services, Foster Care Program.

Article Written By Brother, Bradford Caldwell
July 29, 2017

Submitted by Brother Kevin R Williams
PsiAA Chapter Reporter

Psi Alpha Alpha’s Foster Care High School Graduation Ceremony

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