RICHMOND, Va. -- Christi Durham is on a mission to help foster children. Durham, who runs the Richmond nonprofit Fostering Hope RVA, knows all too well the kind of help foster children need.
She was raised in foster care and later adopted.
She said a longing that nagged her until adulthood was finally satisfied when she met her biological parents after her adoptive parents passed away.
Durham found peace and identified a passion to help foster children who age out of the system.
"These kids are suffering with identity issues because they don't have anyone they can relate to," Durham said.
She founded Fostering Hope RVA to help foster children after she learned grim statistics surrounding foster children:
- More than 5,400 children entered have entered Virginia's foster care system since January 2021
- Forty to 50 percent of foster children who age out become homeless within 18 months
- Sixty percent of child trafficking victims have been in foster care
- Twenty-five percent of foster kids will be incarcerated within two years of aging out of the system
Each year, Durham's nonprofit organizes events like a week-long Next Level camp to show foster children they can find success in life.
"That's a prime time to give them skill sets, redirect them and their outlook on life," she said about the camp. "These kids have been traumatized and they need to have another perspective in life. A positive impact."
Skilled trades will be the focal point of the June 2022 camp.
More than 25 foster care children will participate in workshops with businesses owners in industries like floral design, baking, and photography. Sponsors like Chick-fil-A and Wegmans will cover some of the food for the students, but Durham needs volunteers to help work the camp and donate additional food and funds.
A $250 donation will cover expenses for one foster care child to attend the camp. Durham is hoping businesses across the area will step up and help.