A group of UCLA students and alumni dedicated their Mother’s Day this year to honoring local area foster families.
Approximately 55 UCLA volunteers helped with the 9th Annual Foster Mother’s Day at Willows Community School in Culver City, an event that this year gave a special day to more than 3,000 foster parents and children.
Of the 400,000 foster youth nationally, approximately 35,000 live in Los Angeles, and each year 3,200 of those children “age out” of the system. The Foster Mother’s Day came out of Foster Care Counts founder Jeanne Pritzker’s desire, with friend Debra Katler-Kupetz, to get some value-added from her party setup for her eldest child’s 2008 bar mitzvah. The next day was Mother’s Day, so they kept the set up and invited a group of foster mothers to be honored with a party of their own. What started out as a small celebration with a few dozen foster families has ballooned into an event for thousands, with high profile partners — including Mayor Eric Garcetti — pitching in each year.
During Sunday’s event, kids were entertained by a play area that included carnival games, arts and crafts, magicians, balloon artists and face painting. The parents, and especially the mothers, were treated with a spa and boutique area that offered manicures, eyelash extensions, professional makeup, hair sessions and massages — children were offered fun temporary tattoos.
Steve Yu ’95, MBA ’03, who is an Assistant Dean at the UCLA School of Law and President of the regional alumni network UCLA Los Angeles Westside Network, was actually on hand volunteering independently of the UCLA group. The experience has always been a positive one to him.
“This year was my third year in a row volunteering at the event and after experiencing it for the third time, I decided I will volunteer every year. Why would I sacrifice spending time with my own mother on Mother’s Day? It is because I get to see all these kids, with their bright and excited anticipation as they get off the bus. The kids get to play carnival games, eat cotton candy, dance to a DJ playing music, red in the book nook — basically they get to be absolutely care free for one day. Something they are probably not that familiar with being a foster child. And then there’s the guardians as well, who get the chance to get their makeup and hair done, get some free jewelry, and eat a meal they didn’t have to cook.”
UCLA volunteers made their presence felt throughout the event by greeting guests, painting nails, helping shoot family portraits, distributing donated items such as Cole Haan cellphone cases, playing carnival games with the children and even assisting in the storytelling area.
There were about 600 volunteers throughout the day, and UCLA provided its 55 through One Bus, One Cause program, a single-day volunteer program offered through the UCLA Volunteer Center.
“The students bring enthusiasm, positive energy and sometimes a hug to the attendees and especially for the kids,” Yu added. “Seeing them give up their Sunday from studying reminds me that we are the fortunate ones and that giving back is essential. It warms my heart to know that generosity is in the DNA of UCLA.”
A special carnival area included a number of games volunteers played with the foster children who attended.
Foster families were invited to receive a portrait.
Approximately 55 UCLA volunteers attended the event.