At the age of 60, Ginny Paulsen made a commitment to spend the next decade running her nonprofit organization, Foster Your Future, which aids fostered youth gain a foothold on life.
Paulsen, now 70, is ready to pass the torch on to someone new.
“My goal is to transition this person, and I will stay in it to help them figure out what we’re doing,” Paulsen said.
The challenge now is finding the right fit to take over the nonprofit organization that helps 40 students a year turn their lives around. While Paulsen has operated Foster Your Future out of Fountain Hills, she said she would be happy to work with dedicated individuals in surrounding communities like Scottsdale and Town of Paradise Valley.
While running Foster Your Future is a dream come true for Paulsen, she has done so on a volunteer basis for the last nine years.
It’s why Paulsen says the only way for FYF to survive is to replace herself with a salaried position to ensure the long-term success of FYF and its mission of encouraging success in the growth and independence of young adults.
In order to pay for a salaried position and a possible office space, Paulsen is seeking donations from the community.
“It would be for a person to work full-time to keep this going,” Paulsen said, adding that those with experience in grant writing, volunteering, nonprofit or social work should apply at Support@FosterYourFuture.org.
One of six children, Paulsen was raised in a Catholic Polish family with hardworking parents.
Giving back to the community was a central pillar of Paulsen’s family unit, a trait she has taken into her own career as an occupational therapist, owner of a staffing agency, a Girl Scouts volunteer and an usher at her church.
“It was kind of a thing in our family that you give back,” Paulsen said. “My goal was just to help somebody that had it worse than I did.”
In her research on underserved groups, Paulsen found that fostered youth, particularly those who have aged out of foster care, had little to no resources to guide them through life’s toughest decisions.
“I saw these young adults leaving (foster care) with no life skills. They don’t drive. They don’t have credentials. I was just amazed,” Paulsen said.
When she would visit various group homes, Paulsen said when the youth did obtain a stipend, they had little to no money management skills, typically spending it all very quickly with no thought of saving.
It’s why at Foster Your Future, Paulsen and her team of volunteers encourage every young person to get a GED, college or vocational training degree.
Several FYF students are currently enrolled at Scottsdale Community College, Arizona State University, Mesa Community College and other Valley schools studying for various degrees including nursing, construction management and international trade. Other students are completing their certification to become pharmacy technicians, dental assistants and commercial truck drivers.
While working or in school, the youth are supported financially by FYF through community donations, private donors, the Arizona Tax Credit, local clubs and Paulsen herself.
Foster Your Future works with 40 students per year. Alongside each student is a volunteer mentor/case manager who is tasked with looking after their every need.
From obtaining a driver’s license, applying for jobs or preparing taxes, volunteers are the lifeblood of the operation.
“You get some really nice relationships which is what I was going for,” Paulsen said. “Then they don’t want to disappoint you.”
While the future of FYF is in flux, Paulsen says when she does find a good fit, she will stay on to help in the transition of new leadership.
“Then maybe I could get to work with young adults because that’s what I wanted to do more than the management part of it,” Paulsen said. “There aren’t a lot of programs like ours, and I’d like to at least try to keep it going.”
To inquire about a future at Foster Your Future, visit fosteryourfuture.org or send an email to Support@FosterYourFuture.org.
We invite our readers to submit their civil comments on this issue. Email AZOpinions@iniusa.org. Cyrus Guccione can be reached at email@example.com.