After wiping away tears, guests at this year’s Kind to Kids Spring Celebration breakfast were still left with profound optimism for the future.
That emotional rollercoaster resulted from the extraordinary testimony of two ‘Rising Star’ awardees – foster care system youths who refuse to let themselves be defined by the pain and trauma of their childhoods and insist on reflecting only hope and promise.
Both credited the support of the nonprofit Kind to Kids as instrumental in giving them a second chance at life. Kind to Kids offers educational programs, support services and supplies to the 750 children – victims of child abuse and neglect – in Delaware’s foster care system.
The Governor and Mayor ‘offer’ the former foster youth a job
King was so impressive in his remarks, that both the governor and the mayor of Wilmington half-jokingly offered him a job in their administrations.
Rashawn, a rising sophomore at Delaware State University, credits his ability to overcome life’s obstacles to his faith in God. His remarks highlighted the May 31 breakfast with 12 speakers in all and two other award recipients: Delaware’s First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney and Nemours Health System.
Rashawn’s remarks graphically transported the audience to a place of unimaginable despair. As a young adolescent, King endured terrible abuse and was moved about to the homes of multiple family members. Eventually, Rashawn was placed in foster care at the age of 16.
He then endured more difficult times in foster care, bouncing around between ‘good families and bad families’ while earning his high school diploma at Smyrna High School.
Remarks from former foster youth move guests
An accomplished musician, King didn’t seem to take note that he was also a gifted writer until guests in the Hotel DuPont Gold Ballroom stood at their feet for several minutes following his remarks.
To anyone who has invested in me, just thank you. It’s greatly appreciated.
I first would like to thank God for this great opportunity. I also would like to thank Kind to Kids — they have shown tremendous support and relentless love and kindness toward me.
I would like to briefly share a passage from a Psalm written by King David. It reads, “The Lord is my shepherd.”
Although I have experienced many challenges as a child and as a foster youth, I have always found comfort in knowing that the Lord is my Shepherd. King David of the Bible is very special to me for many reasons, but the most important reason amongst these is that David was a musician who worshipped the Lord. And he also was an abandoned child.
In times of trouble, he hid behind his songs from his heart and hymns to God. He did this so often that there is a 150-chapter book that includes these love songs to God.
And like David, I have found solace in a hymn. This hymn reads, “In seasons of distress and grief, my soul has often found relief and often escaped the tempter’s snare by thy return. Sweet Hour of Prayer.”
That is my foster care experience.
And I would just like to say one last thing. Being a foster youth was very interesting — a very interesting chapter in life. It was bittersweet. It was beautiful, but it also was unfortunate.
But I will say that I’m not just a foster youth because I was placed in a foster home. I’m a foster youth because when my mother and father forsook me, it was the Lord, and only the Lord who was willing to take me in.
Mayda Berrios, a rising sophomore at Delaware State University and a former foster care youth, and 11-year-old Amir Phillips, who is in the Kind to Kids after-school club at Stubbs Elementary also received awards and spoke movingly to guests at the breakfast.
Following Rashawn’s remarks, Dept. of Services for Children, Youth and their Families Cabinet Secretary Josette Manning said, “Sharing the stage today with Mayda, Amir and Rashawn has been the highlight of my week, if not my year, if not my entire career.”
Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki was noticeably moved by each of the student’s speeches. He said, “I’d like to thank Mayda, Rashawn and Amir for lifting our hearts today. Reshawn I’ve got an opening for a speechwriter. I know it’s a little early in your career. But if I deliver that speech, I’m getting elected to everything!”