STATE OF OPPORTUNITY. Can Kids in Michigan Get Ahead?
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This special reporting project wrapped up in May 2017. Read more.

Volunteering gives kids in foster care and listener's spirits a lift

For the next few days we're featuring stories of ordinary listeners who read or heard a story on State of Opportunity and decided to give some of their resources or time as a result. We know many of you have done the same. If you've got a story to share or an idea of how people could help let us know here. If you need ideas of what you could do, check out the resources page. We'll update it with  listener suggestions as they come in.

Amanda Eding can't remember the specific moment when she felt it was time to move beyond getting upset at the State of Opportunity stories she heard on her radio. The stories about kids in the child welfare system touched a nerve. "Some of the stories I would hear, I would think this is such an injustice!" she says, almost laughing at herself. "Sometimes I would get mad, and sometimes, I would cry."

Moved as she was Eding wasn't sure what she could do. As a single mother of two, she didn't feel like she had the time to do very much. So, she donated a few items to Mosaic. It's an organization that supports kids and young adults in foster care in Holland, where Eding lives.

Later, at the import and export business where she works, Eding was surprised to find out her co-worker also volunteered with Mosaic. Her co-worker had a suggestion: the organization was looking for volunteers to drive young adults to support meetings. These meetings are supposed to help kids ageing out of foster care get ready to start living completely on their own. Many of these kids are just 18 years old.

The local Department of Human Services office in Holland set up Eding's first appointment. After a background check, she had her first job. She remembers the young man well. "What a sweetheart he was," she said.  "It was only a 10- or 15-minute ride but I thought, 'Wow, these kids are really great.'"

That first ride was a few months ago. Eding still helps out with rides and some of Mosaic's other initiatives. Now, she even stays for the support meetings, something she didn't think she'd do when she began volunteering. "I'm shy and I was kind of  intimidated by a bunch of teenagers," Eding admits. "I was nervous at the start but there's such a need, and lot of it is time more than stuff."

It's a small thing, just giving rides to kids who need them. But Eding says her interactions with these young people has made a big difference to the way she listens to stories on the radio, and how she understands poverty.

"Not like I wasn't empathetic before," she says, again laughing a little. Then, getting serious again she says, "But, knowing about these things and be able to tell more people about it changed my view on poverty.

The foster system isn't always what people think it is. It's enriched my passion for helping, I think."

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