Of late, I have been thinking about how vulnerable our students are. At Sobrato this year we have now had two tragic events affect our student population. In the fall, there was the shooting death of Tara Romero, along with the injuries of three other students. And now it is three weeks since the disappearance of Sierra LaMar, who was abducted while walking to the school bus stop the morning of March 16. Of course we are all hoping that she will be safely returned to her family.
I don’t know how to measure the impact of these two tragedies on the rest of the student population, but I can tell you that it is noticeable. There is no way to tell how these events will color their lives in the future.
I would like to caution parents to be watchful for mood changes, to have frequent discussions with their sons and daughters and to consult with their pediatricians if they have concerns.
While both of these Sobrato victims have been young girls, it is important to also acknowledge the vulnerability of our boys. Boys can also be the victims of violence. Boys are also sometimes abducted.
And boys do, at alarming levels, suffer depression.
Adults need to be aware of these issues. This year more than most, I think we all need to be gentle in our handling of our students and children even as we try to keep them focused and on task through the end of the school year.
In the midst of all of this concern, I do have an inspiring story of resilience to share. It is the story of a young woman who has emerged from a very difficult situation determined to make something positive of her life, by helping others who are among the most vulnerable of all. Molly Ganoza is 17 years old, and a senior. Her dad passed away a year ago, and Molly landed in the foster care system.
Today, she lives with her aunt and uncle and their children.
But while she was still in a group home, she suffered a serious illness that saw her frequenting the emergency room, vomiting blood and being subjected to all sorts of tests. She says, “I think that was a turning point for me. I realized, I wanted to make something of myself no matter how long of a life I had.” She recalled her first day in the Children’s Shelter: “I met a young girl, maybe 12, she was covered in bruises. I remember seeing her for the first time and seeing all the pain in her eyes, and the fear.”
Molly has resolved to do something to help others. With her social worker, she has been attending California Youth Connection – a statewide nonprofit organization that advocates for foster youth.
She belongs to the Santa Clara County chapter, which is focusing on homelessness among current and former foster youth.
Earlier this year she had identified an unused public property, and advocated for its conversion to a facility that would offer services to this population. Instead the property was sold, but she is not giving up. She has been meeting with local and state representatives to try to secure more resources for foster youth – not an easy job given today’s budget reality.
In order to raise awareness of the challenges facing homeless foster youth, Molly is leading a team of CYC members who are producing a documentary film about the issue.
On May 21, the Santa Clara County chapter of CYC is setting up a walk to encourage policy makers to allocate more resources to the homeless youth population.
They are in need of sponsors. If you would like to make a contribution of money, media equipment, sign-making materials, plain T-shirts, bottled water, or toiletries (these last to be donated to the homeless), I would be more than happy to pass it along.
Any donations for the CYC can be dropped off care of Ms. Wallace at Sobrato High School, and are fully tax deductible. Please email to the address below.