Despite the rain of the day before and that morning, the sun shone brightly on the efforts of Children Uniting Nations, run by Daphna Ziman, as they proceeded into this excellent day of helping foster children throughout the city. "We are all one family," Daphna said, "and it's important for you kids to know it. You are our children. The American family, as we knew it, no longer exists. We are a nation of single parents, singles and seniors. In LA county alone, we have 56,000 kids who need help." These are kids who are either homeless or in the foster care system. "They need someone to give them love, trust and consistency. Many of these children flit from home to home and school to school, never knowing one person or one family for any length of time. There is no one that they can trust. No one looks them in the eye. No one remembers their birthdays. Can you imagine the trauma? Can you imagine the damage that does to them?"
Partying at Pacific Park in Santa Monica, tables were spread out with gifts and information for the children including many books and school items from ABC Learn (which has a charter school in Pacoima area for drop outs); State Farm (encouraging safe driving habits,) Beit T'Shuvah (encouraging kids to stay off drugs), backpacks from Israel, Kids Are 1st organization, and bears from Build A Bear.
Starting off the day were Bunny Gibson and the American Bandstand dancers (Yay, Dick Clark Productions!) who sponsored the dance contest. Said Bunny, " Many of these kids come here not knowing what to expect, but when they get up and dance, they're invigorated." Bunny has come to the event for the past ten years.
Others present included Music artist, Aanysa; Aaron Fresh (top hit rapper with over five million internet fans); Anehita Okojie, Monalisa Okojie (celebrity jewelry designer); Austin Michael Coleman, Brandon Tyler Russell; Cassandra Michaels (singer), Emma Kate Bateman; Nolan Bateman, Tori and Troi; the Israeli Consulate; Gregory Brock (singer songwriter promoting his new EP Moonstone out in December); Isabella Palmieri (actress) ; Jordon Newt (rap artist); Lex Lane (rap artist - promoting her new song Pimpy), Lindsay Taylor; Mikayela Spainhoward (singer promoting her single America's Most Wanted), Power Rangers Samurai; The Sledge Grits Band; Melissa Mishelle (singer recently back from her Israeli tour); Fiona Bates (director/filmmaker); Smiley Star and Lucky Star; Meghan Keeler (actress); Ammaya Calhoun (singer) and dancers, Justice Domingo and Sajde Austin; Bobby Drake (singer -Temptations), Stoner Drake (singer with Tina Turner); Jonathan Magnificent; Angelica; Mikayla (actress /host); Elly Kaye (actress); Cindy Omidi, and Michelle Ziman, with Fanya Cohen, Lon Levin and John Sullivan.
Among those lauding the works of Day of the Child were the Consulate General of Sri Lanka, who said that when his country was hit by the Tsumani several years ago, the first responders he saw were Americans and he knew that, somehow, he had to give back to this great country.
Congresswoman Karen Bass, who has made it her mission, both in Sacramento and now in Washington, DC, to champion the rights of foster kids, joined us. Learning about Daphna's program, she asked to join and help where she could and help she has done her best to champion every child in the state and federal programs. Another great assistance came from foster care crusader, L A City Councilman Dennis Zine. "If I asked for buses," Daphna said, "his response was 'How many?"
In this recession, with finances for many so tight, much of the support came from Rod Sherwood.
Performers included Max Schneider and the Ajuku Girls, Lindsay Taylor and Alyson Stoner, Booboo and Fivel Stewart, Sheyna Gee (Aritst of the Year and Country Music Best Artist and the only one wyho sang two songs at the event) and Ashley Argota
Sponsors included ABC Learn, Inc; Factor's Famous Deli, Cine Moi, Hybrid Apparel, Hansen's Natural Sodas, 99 cents only stores, The I Am Foundation, Philippe Mariguon, Hubert's Lemonade, Melrose Bakery, Coke-Cola, Consulate General of Israel, O.P.I, Auto Dream Cars, Ruth Ziegler Trust Foundation, Build a Bear and of course, Children Uniting Nations.
Children Uniting Nations (CUN) is a Community based Mentoring Program that matches up caring and responsible mentors with children and youth from 10-18 living in foster care or probation trhough the Los Angeles County area. They take kids on outings or sometimes just hang out and answer questions for the kids. Trips are often arranged by CUN and requires 8-10 hours a month with the mentees for a period of, at least, one year. The strong and healthy bond with the young child helps them with self esteem, social skills and obtaining employment. Additionally, mentors often learn more from their mentees than they ever expected. There is a 15 hour based training prior to being matched, and supervision. Mentors must be 21 years or older, negative for TB, submit to a criminal and background check, submit DMV history for approval, have a valid CA driver's license along with a reliable auto insurance and registration.
You can help the foster kids from Children Uniting Nations in several ways - one, of course, is by becoming a general mentor, yourself or you can either become an academic mentor helping with school work, improving self esteem, and keeping the kids in school since we know that education is so important and the youth are in need of positive role models. You need only to be 18 to be an academic mentor and only 1-3 hours a week of commitment.
Lastly, many companies are offering occupational mentoring where kids are taught job skills.
For more information about mentoring call Robert Slaughter at 323 944 0500 or [email protected] or go to www.childrenuniting nations.org for more information. They are in desperate need of funds to help these kids.
Kids the future is in your hand. Go get education and make your dreams come true.