— Photos by Ann Chatillon
CdM’s Susan Samueli saw a crucial gap in OC’s foster children’s program: kids who emancipate from the foster system and Orangewood Children’s home at age 18 face a very uncertain future. Forty percent end up homeless or incarcerated. Less than 50 percent of foster kids graduate high school, and only 10 percent enroll in college and 2 percent graduate.
In 1999, Samueli ounded an Orangewood auxiliary, 44 Women for Children, to raise scholarship funds, mentor the former foster kids and advocate for them. Since that time, 44 Women has raised more than $2 million for Orangewood, with still more raised at the 7th annual Scholarship Luncheon held June 8 at the Island Hotel.
The luncheon featured guest speaker Melissa Gilbert of “Little House on the Prairie” fame, and an inspiring speech by a recipient of a 44 Women scholarship who attends Cal State Fullerton.
“Being trapped and then freed makes freedom all the more wonderful,” said the young woman, who came from an abusive background.
In 2009/2010 Orangewood and 44 Women provided scholarships totaling $911,000 to 325 students at 80 schools in 15 states.
For more information, visit 44womenforchildren.org.