East Texas foster care teens need 'PAL' sponsors
POSTED: Thursday, May 17, 2012 - 9:00pm
UPDATED: Thursday, May 17, 2012 - 9:14pm
In the next few weeks, many high school seniors around East Texas will graduate and start the next phase in their lives.
But some of them don't have a family to lean on as they make that transition into the real world.
One program helps find them the support they need, and that program, needs you.
Tyler resident Salomon Ortiz was put into foster care as a teenager, and when he graduated from high school, he admits it was tough.
"Being almost sheltered to being completely handed out to the world, was a big shock for me," Ortiz said. "There was a lot that I needed to learn that I felt I hadn't learned."
Luckily, he had a "pal" to help him out.
"P.A.L. was there any second I needed them and help me a lot with the transition," he said.
P.A.L.,or Preparation for Adult Living, is a program within The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
It helps older youth who are in foster care grow into healthy, productive adults.
"(For) most youth, your parents help you into the dorm, get the items you need or help get into an apartment," said Julie Shrode with P.A.L. "With our foster youth, that's kinda what were trying to do with our program: look to the community for sponsors and maybe people who feel compelled to help with that."
Shrode says the East Texas area has about 40 youth graduating from high school this year in foster care, and every year, P.A.L. looks for people to support and sponsor the graduating teens, through things like showers.
"We try to get churches, community organizations, etc. to help graduates so they can have that shower," Shrode said. "They get to kind of go and identify things they need based on their plan, and then the group will go and shop and provide that shower for them."
The people with P.A.L. say they accept any kind of help, whether it be a mentor to the teens, sponsoring, or just donating to the cause.
For more on how you can help 'P.A.L.,' click here.