“This was literally the final straw,” Elizabeth Joy said of the incident. She left to “salvage her own sanity.”
Joy is a current student and member of the Christ In Action club on campus. She used to work in a foster home called The Resource Environment for Underprivileged Groups Enterprise (R.E.F.U.G.E.) in Oakland.
During her time there, she was distraught by the conditions and the situations she saw. She recognized a need that she hopes will positively impact the children she used to work with.
The R.E.F.U.G.E. is a foster home specifically for kids and teens suffering from mental health issues. In a community where mental health problems are so prevalent, Joy didn’t expect that to be the cause of many fights.
Only a few weeks into her employment, Joy found herself between two boys picking on a special needs child and she was punched.
This, however, was not the incident that caused her to leave. The boy was being transferred to another house to prevent this from happening again. She was helping the child pack all of his belongings– into garbage bags. Seeing him have to put what few things he could call his own into trash bags deeply disturbed her. This was what she called the final straw.
“One boy had been in 17 different foster homes and institutions in his life,” Joy said, “so the need is definitely there.”
There are five foster houses total in The R.E.F.U.G.E., three for boys and two for girls. Many of the girls are victims of human trafficking and regularly run away from the foster homes and back into the dangerous and extremely destructive lifestyle they are used to.
After three weeks working in the extreme stress of the foster home Joy said she was “emotionally broke.” She feels the homes are run with little regard for the feelings of the individuals who often times have never felt what it is like to be in a loving home with parents and families by their sides.
Joy was done, but her desire to help was not. She could not stand to send another child out of the foster home with garbage bags so she came up with the idea to donate duffel bags.
She brought her idea of buying the duffel bags and filling them with supplies to Christ In Action here, who excitedly picked up the idea.
Christ In Action is run by Virginia Edwards, classified library staff, who supported the idea from the getgo. Although the club has not yet officially kicked off the initiative, they have ordered a sample duffel bag to make sure it is adequate, and the idea is in motion.
The idea is that each child will receive a 26 inch duffel bag so they can put their belongings in something other than garbage bags. The bags will be filled with notes of encouragement, school supplies and toiletries.
At this time, Christ In Action plans to put together a bake sale to raise funds and awareness for the project. They also want to host a drive for school supplies and other items.
All students can donate if they wish, by dropping their donation to Edwards in the library. Students are encouraged to be a part of this club and help touch the lives of many children in need.
Christ In Action currently meets on Wednesdays from 2 p.m.-3 p.m. in room 1726.