Agape Villages is a licensed foster family agency that places children in foster homes in communities throughout Northern California, including the counties of Alameda and Contra Costa. The agency accepts referrals from California's Department of Social Services, Child Protective Services, and County Mental Health Departments. It serves disadvantaged children, adolescents, and young adults from newborn to 21 years of age.
"We are a special organization because we help find loving foster homes for kids who have been removed from their biological homes, often due to abuse and/or neglect," says Jennifer Oxe, who has been with Agape Villages in the role of Community Engagement Director, Tri-Valley for five years.
Agape Villages mobilizes community resources to provide quality homes, innovative solutions, and the highest of professional services to disadvantaged children and their families to meet their needs, maximize their potential, and lead them toward a better and brighter future. One example is the agency's Independent Living Skills Program, which is designed to prepare teen foster youth to live unassisted in the outside world. This program offers teens served by the agency with a variety of useful classes. Class topics include resume writing, personal banking and finances, healthy cooking, driver training, and job interview training. Through this program teens can also go on junior college tours that introduce them to regional two-year colleges such as Las Positas.
Biological parents typically invest a median amount of just under $50,000 on their young adult children after age 18, thus giving them a chance at becoming productive, self-sufficient adults, according to Oxe. Foster youth, on the other hand, are thrust into the world as independent adults at the age of 18 or 21 without a safety net. They receive, on average, less than $10,000 of financial assistance. That makes the Independent Living Skills Program an especially important tool for giving older foster youth an opportunity to learn the critical life skills necessary for them to become self-sufficient after emancipation.
Agape Villages originated as Sierra Children's Home and has been advocating for children since the 1960s. Since then, the agency has helped thousands of children find loving foster homes. The agency currently works in 14 counties throughout Northern California and relies heavily on volunteers to meet its mission.
"We are constantly looking to add to our volunteer team," says Oxe. "It is very rewarding work." Oxe notes that volunteers may commit to as little as one hour per month. The agency's headquarters is located in San Ramon but volunteers can be located elsewhere in the Tri-Valley.
In addition to volunteers, Agape Villages also looks to donors to support its work. Tri-Valley supporters typically raise between $50,000 and $100,000 per year. "We are constantly fundraising whether it be through grants or our three major events per year in April, July, and November," notes Oxe. "All of the money goes toward critical foster care programs."
The Hacienda community is invited to support Agape Villages next month at its 7th Annual Tri-Valley Dinner & Auction in Pleasanton. The fundraiser will be held at the Pleasanton Marriott on April 18, 2020 beginning at 6 pm. The event will feature a buffet dinner, silent auction, dancing, wine raffle, and more.
For more information about Agape Villages Foster Family Agency, please visit www.agapevillages.org .