Trinity Opportunity Alliance
One Arizona organization is helping foster children have a successful life after foster care.
(Photo: 12 News)
In the current foster care system, when a child reaches 18 years of age they “age out” of the system and are on their own.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 25% of those who age out of the system wind up homeless and on the street.
“Well, I’ve been in the foster care system since I was a young child," Jonathan Whipple, who recently aged out of the foster care system, said. Without help, Whipple would have gone right back to the life that led him to enter foster care in the first place.
“I started getting in trouble in my early teens,” Whipple said. "Got in trouble and went from detention to starting to get arrested."
The Arizona Department of Child Safety, as Whipple tells it, decided that his grandmother, who was raising him at the time, was not able to provide the direction that Whipple needed. At the time, Whipple admits to selling drugs and running with gangs. Today, he seems to be a different person. Organizations like Trinity Opportunity Alliance played a big role in Whipple’s turnaround.
“I heard that children who had been in the foster care system are much more likely to end up homeless," said Reverend Nancy Cushman of North Scottsdale United Methodist Church, who started TOA. "It broke my heart to hear that." With the help and support of the congregation, Rev. Cushman began placing young adults who aged out of the foster care system with employers who were looking to fill jobs.
“What do we do? What outreach could we do that would make a difference?” asked Janice Grandy, Trinity Opportunity Alliance’s Program Director. “To be change makers, not just fundraising; sending money at them, but how could we change the environment? How could we do systems work that would really change their lives?" The answer seemed to be employment. As employers teamed with Trinity Opportunity Alliance, more and more young adults found themselves in meaningful jobs, with coworkers who were interested in their success.
“It's really exciting,” said Cushman. "This is probably one of the most important things in ministry I've been able to start and be a part of."
"I find it one of the most original experiences I've had," Grandy said. "On a personal note, our daughter fostered a little boy for a year and that is where I started to truly understand what is happening in the foster care system.”
So far, in the past two years, more than a dozen foster children now have a brighter future and dozens more are making their way through the process. For those like Jonathan, it’s a future he may not have otherwise had. “I’d probably just be out there and on the streets," Whipple said. "Just doing all kinds of stuff, probably end up in jail … or dead by now, I don’t even know really.”
One more way in which TOA helps its young adults is through reliable transportation. TOA has been able to donate a handful of cars to those who have gone through the program, to get to work or program meetings.
To view this Channel 12 newscast click below:
What is Trinity Opportunity Alliance?
At eighteen, youth who are in foster care are no longer the responsibility of the state and are considered “aged out.” With no support system, little if any work experience, and minimal education, many of these young people are unemployed and become homeless. What role can a faith community play in helping these young people become economically independent?
Trinity Opportunity Alliance (TOA), a program of North Scottsdale United Methodist Church, identifies potential employers, works with youth serving organizations to match eligible youth with jobs, and supports employers with training and problem solving.
Who? Young adults who are aging out of the Foster Care system.Employers who are motivated to help these young people gain work experience.
What? A program that connects members of the congregation with business connections with foster youth to provide employment opportunities.
Why? Employment gives these young people a hand up, not a hand out. By giving them an opportunity for a supportive work experience, they will become economically independent.
Check out their website @ http://www.toaaz.org/
Celebrating Janice's Contributions!
Janice Grandy's skills and leadership propelled the success of the Trinity Opportunity Alliance organization from a concept to reality! On June 4th, 2017, she stepped down from her leadership role. Pastor's Nancy and Dave thanked her for all that she did to help make this venture take off! Fortunately, Janice will remain in a board of director position for TOA. So nice of Billie Fidlin from DSW conference to attend and support Janice Grandy! Thank you to Madge Haynes (her replacement) for being there as well!
Thank you Janice! You are loved and respected for your ministry to the foster care community and for being YOU!
NSUMC is excited to announce that TRINITY OPPORTUNITY ALLIANCE. has hired two new staff! They were introduced to the congregation this morning so please welcome them in their new roles when you see them!
David Decker, MBA, was selected as the Director of Administration. He worked for Wells Fargo for 12 years, serving in positions responsible for strategic planning project management, and customer insights and analysis. David also served as the Senior Director of Consumer Insights and Innovation for Aetna. He has his MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management and will complete his PhD in Sociocultural Anthropology from Arizona State University in 2019. David is also a member of our Chancel Choir and a familiar face to NSUMC.
Madge Haynes, ACSW, LCSW, was selected as the Director of Programs. She has worked in the child welfare field for her entire career. This includes serving as Senior Director/Deputy Director for Casey Family Programs in California and Phoenix. Madge was also the Executive Director of Arizona Partnership for Children. She has her Master of Social Work, Child Welfare Specialization from Arizona State University.
We are thrilled to announce that Trinity Opportunity Alliance has been awarded a grant of $355,000 from Los Arcos United Methodist Building Corporation. This will allow TOA to expand the program to reach more employers, churches and, most importantly, more young people aging out of the foster care system.
Contact our Program Director, Madge Haynes, directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or Director of Administration, David Decker @ email@example.com
11735 North Scottsdale Road,
Scottsdale, AZ 85254