A Hand to Hold

The Y.E.S. program Hand-in-Hand aims to empower foster youth in northern Humboldt County through positive, mentor-led recreational activities. Hand-in-Hand mostly focuses their efforts on being positive role models and striving to give their participants consistent support throughout the year. Hand-in-Hand commits 2-3 hours of their time to these youth every Saturday from 11am-2pm, allowing parents to shop or run errands while children to socialize and have fun.

Hand-in-Hand has a total of 25 volunteers that work with approximately 10-20 kids at a time ranging from ages 5-18 years old, (with the average age being 9 years old). These foster kids have gotten to experience a wide array of fun activities, some of which include: playing at Larson Park, going to the zoo, and roller skating. Steve says their main focus is to give these kids a distraction from their situation, and simply allow kids to be kids.

A Hand to Hold

Steve recounts moments that the foster children have been hesitant to participate, but says they generally fight past nerves and near instantly engage with their peers in the fun. Steve recalled a specific memory where a mother had dropped off her child who was almost in tears, “You never would have known it”, he said, “...the kids instantly clicked with each other”.

Directors Steve Childs, Stephanie Estrada, and Elysa Weatherbee, have all been in Hand-in-Hand for at least a year, giving them the opportunity to see the children flourish in the program. Some of the children have even been in the program as long as the directors. “I have really seen kids grow up in the program”, says Steve. Steve says Hand-in-Hand enforces a two semester commitment on all of their volunteers, since consistency is a rare and sought-after theme in the lives of foster youth.

Hand-in-Hand mostly advertises about their services by word-of-mouth from foster parent to foster parent. However, Steve and Stephanie have been making great efforts to recruit more foster youth for their program by giving presentations at foster parent meetings. Steve says if Hand-in-Hand manages to raise more funds and gains more participants, they could technically have the capacity to host around 50 foster youth at a time. In the near future Hand-in-Hand hopes to fundraise enough to take the kids to Bounce-A-Palooza located in the Bayshore Mall or Flips for Kids, the gymnastics and tumbling gym in Eureka.