Future Fest provides guidance for those exiting foster care

CEDAR RAPIDS — More than 50 Eastern Iowa teens and young adults attended Future Fest in Cedar Rapids on Thursday night, an event designed to smooth their transition out of foster care.

This is the fifth year for Future Fest, an effort put together by Foundation 2, the Junior League of Cedar Rapids and the Iowa Department of Human Services.

The event, an idea of past Foundation 2 employees, has grown into a resource fair for 16- to 21-year-olds who have been in the foster care system. It was held at the Grant Wood Area Education Agency, 1120 33rd Ave. SW.

“It’s just a great way to get the youth the resources they need in the area,” said Shelby Holsapple, case manager for Foundation 2, who also helps run the Iowa Aftercare Services and Achieving Maximum Potential programs for youth.

“The 16 to 21 age, there’s so many things going on,” she said. “We want them to know that they are supported, that they have resources and are not alone. Anything we can do to help them, we will.”

Holsapple said the program introduce foster-care youth to programs that help with education, housing, employment, health and other supports.

For the first half of the event, attendees were allowed to talk to many of the volunteer representatives at booths. Colleges and universities had booths, as well as Iowa College Aid, Planned Parenthood, the Iowa State University Extension Office, Job Corps and the Willis Dady Shelter.

New additions this year included the Army National Guard, Cedar Rapids Police Department and Iowa Legal Aid.

For Celia Van Meter, 19, finding such resources was instrumental in her becoming a Kirkwood Community College student.

Van Meter was kicked out of her foster care home at age 18. DHS workers introduced her to Holsapple through the Achieving Maximum Potential program.

“Luckily, I had Shelby and was able to get a place,” Van Meter said. “I’m now on my feet more than ever. Don’t ever think you’re alone. There’s a lot of resources out here I would have thought I could never have.”

Now Van Meter and her friend, Tiara Mosley, 19, help run Future Fest. Van Meter said she even found out about a scholarship program at Thursday’s event.

Attendees also listened to a speech from Kristina Glackin, 28, of Cedar Rapids, who was in foster care from age 13 to 15. She said she suffered from eating disorders and substance abuse.

She spoke about how her Christian faith changed her life for the better.

“There is nobody too far gone for the love of God to reach them,” she said. “I know that because I tried everything else. I tried counseling. I tried marijuana, I tried drinking, finding it in another person. I tried money, There was no peace in my life. Out of desperation, I cried out to a God I thought I hated.”

Glackin said she wanted attendees to know they can always rediscover hope during a daunting transition in their lives. Faith and help from area resources can provide that guidance, she said.

Mosley also had a message: “These youth are capable of so much more than they know.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8516; [email protected]