Former foster care crusader spearheads non-profit organization to pay homage to late brother
Written by Samantha Pounds
Social media is a very powerful tool if used correctly. Recently, while on Facebook, I came across a Facebook friend who I noticed was doing very powerful things in the community-the foster care community. I noticed this friend was starting a non-profit organization paying homage to his late brother Joshua.
Giving Joshua A Chance was started by Brandon Higgins, who just like his brother was also a product of the foster care system. "My brother Joshua and I were placed in foster care around 1999. We were both eventually adopted. Joshua spent a lot of time in juvenile. His adoptive parents eventually gave up their parental rights," said Higgins.
Higgins started Giving Joshua A Chance with the intention of giving back to the community as an individual who has lived through the foster care community.
According to the American Society for the Positive Care of Children, Higgins and his brother Joshua were not alone. Over 437,000 children and youth are in foster care. 45% of foster children live in non-relative foster family homes while only 32% of foster children live in relative foster family homes.
In addition to the staggering statistics, more boys are in the foster care system compared to girls with a 52% whereas its only 48% for girls.
While growing up in foster care and eventually an adoptive family home, Higgins didn't realize the significance and impact it had on him until later in life. "I grew up in a non-healthy environment and I didn't realize it until I was older. I spent 9 years with my mom and she was addicted to drugs. My first placement in foster care was with an African American family. There was no distinction that I was biracial," said Higgins.
Higgins also shared some of his most traumatic experiences while in foster care including being sexually abused. But it was an educator that helped to shape his educational experience and change his overall outlook on life. "I had an educator that really advocated for me," shares Higgins who also shared, "It gave me a lot of faith in people and changed my perspective on life." It was in his Junior year of high school that Higgins decided to pursue a better life with education as the forefront. "It wasn't until my junior year of high school when I realized I wanted to do more with my life, with church camps and day camps. During my freshmen year of college, my adoptive parents took me to Denny's and reminded me that at the end of the day no one is going to have my back but myself," said Higgins.
Giving Joshua A Chance is Higgins' way of paying homage to his late brother Joshua. The non-profit organization aims to help youth in the foster care system to become financially literate, providing life and social skills among other programs aimed at helping the betterment of the youth.
The focus for Giving Joshua A Chance is to bring in alumni and careered professionals of the foster care system. "A lot of these kids have been subjected to trauma and loss. They can't be afraid to step outside of their box," said Higgins. While Giving Joshua A Chance board is currently closed of accepting new board members, Higgins suggests interested individuals to stay on the lookout for the next phase of the board member selection process in two years.
Community members who are still interested in the organization's mission are however encouraged to make monetary donations alongside with sharing the overall mission of the non-profit. Later this Fall, Giving Joshua A Chance plans to have a community wide event, a back to school night and more fundraising events.
When giving his thoughts on children and youth in the foster care system, Higgins shares, "Don't give up, lift your head high. Just realize you're not the only one in this station. There are people in worst situations. Make sure you make it to the top so you can lift others up. I'm a living testimony that you can make it."
For more information about Giving Joshua A Chance and to donate, visit www.givingjoshuaachance.com