Fostering the Future is seeking UNMC students to join the organization, which was created so students could help children and young adults in the foster care system while also expanding their medical and health care knowledge.
Fostering the Future was developed to provide quality resources that meet the needs of youth currently in, or "phasing out," of Omaha's foster care system, said Therese Mathews, Ph.D., associate professor in the UNMC College of Nursing and one of the organization's advisers.
"Our goal is to provide support through education, mentorship, need-based donations and lasting relationships," Dr. Mathews said. "During the difficult time of social distancing, youth who are aging out of foster care may feel even more isolated and alone once they leave their foster homes. Our goal is to be able to provide a social connection with the adolescents and young adults by offering mentorship and assuring they have access to needed support systems."
Fostering the Future membership requires a 30-minute meeting held over the noon hour every other week in preparation for three events:
- The annual Fall Blanket Drive: This event includes ordering fleece, recruiting students to help make the blankets, arranging for snack/food, helping with fund raising, making tie blankets and delivering the blankets to various organizations throughout the Omaha community. Organizations that benefit include the Omaha Police Department, the Ronald McDonald House, the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, Project Harmony and the Siena/Francis House.
- The annual Spring Health Fair: Youth from Project Everlast (a community organization that supports teenage youth and young adults who are aging out of foster care) are invited to learn about different aspects of their physical and mental health. The health fair is usually held in April and includes the students from Fostering the Future helping the youth with developing a booth on a health-related topic.
- Schwartz Center Grand Rounds: The Schwartz Center Grand Rounds is a monthly meeting offered during the noon hour on the UNMC campus to educate students, faculty and staff at UNMC about health care perspectives from the patient viewpoint. Fostering the Future sponsors the meeting one month each year (usually over the noon hour) and invites members from Project Everlast or other youth in the community to talk about their perspective of health care and provide recommendations for health care providers with working with foster youth.
Student who are interested in joining can email Dr. Mathews.