During her years teaching at Title 1 schools, Flagler College alumni Aubrie Simpson-Gotham saw a wide gap in services for local children in foster care and foster families. It was readily apparent that St. Johns County foster children needed mentorship, career coaching, and access to resources. The type of person who seeks solutions to problems – especially those affecting children – Simpson-Gotham established Fostering Connections St. Johns (FCSJ) in 2019.
“St. Johns County is the only county in Florida that doesn’t have a nonprofit arm running its foster programs,” Simpson-Gotham explained. “There are more than 170 kids currently in foster care in St. Johns County’s Family Integrity Program. It’s a unique system and one that needs the help of the community to make sure that these kids have all of the support they need.”
Simpson-Gotham founded FCSJ to help all foster youth reach their full potential and connect volunteers and community leaders to opportunities to assist foster families in providing stable, loving homes for children in transition. The organization is supported by an all-volunteer Board of Directors and Advisory Council. Some of the services offered include providing care packages and other essential items to children who are entering foster care and a Career Readiness Academy program for teens.
“Career Readiness Academy, a three-class job training program held twice a year for teens in foster care, was started last summer in partnership with The Kookaburra, a local coffee shop and roastery,” said Simpson-Gotham. “It’s an amazing program where students learn foundational skills they need to secure a job, including writing a resume, interview skills, and working as a team. At the end of the program, students apply for paid internships with our business partners to receive job coaching and develop a professional plan.”
Foster the future! Fostering Connections St. Johns is looking for business sponsors, corporate sponsors, volunteer job coaches, soft skills teachers, and mentors for its Career Readiness Academy.
SAVE THE DATE! On Saturday, May 1 from 6pm to 10pm, Fostering Connections St. Johns will be hosting its “Night of the Arts” fundraiser at Fantasy Farms, 194 South Roscoe Blvd., Ponte Vedra Beach, with live painting demonstrations, auctions, cocktails, catering by Sporks, and more. The event will be primarily outdoors at 50% capacity with social distancing precautions in place. Tickets are $75 per person and can be purchased here.
ABOUT FCSJ: A nonprofit organization founded in 2019 by Aubrie Simpson-Gotham, Fostering Connections St. Johns provides support for children in foster care and foster parents through fundraising, volunteerism, and advocacy. For more information, contact [email protected] or call 904-813-5809. Learn more at fosteringconnectionsstjohns.org and follow along on Facebook @FosteringConnectionsStJohns
Images by Amanda Lamosova of Sweet Smiles Photography