First Place for Youth
Nov 19, 2019
Published last week in print and on the LADYGUNN website, Life After Foster Care shares portraits and stories of former foster youth in their own words. The piece is the work of LOLA Creative Agency in San Francisco, and we are exceptionally proud to have four First Place alumni among those profiled.
The team at LOLA reached out to us in early spring. They had recently worked on a campaign supporting a holiday gift drive for children in foster care. With that experience fresh in their minds, they were interested in offering a platform to former foster youth. Their idea was to create a feature that would blend editorial fashion styling with personal stories and advice. By presenting compelling and uplifting stories of achievement, the piece would serve to educate the public and inspire young people still in foster care. Hearing a pitch that matched so well to our own mission of supporting foster youth’s potential, we eagerly agreed to reach out to My First Place graduates.
While we aren’t still in touch with everyone who has come through our doors, the strong relationships that are at the center of our work mean that First Place participants often choose to stay in touch and keep us in the loop on their lives long after they leave us. That made it easy for us to start thinking about which alumni might be open to sharing their stories with a broad audience. A flurry of emails later, and Angelica, Charvette, Darryl, and Teresa were all on board. In addition, the day would also include participants who had been connected to LOLA through Ticket to Dream, the Guardian Scholars program at San Francisco State University, and Haven of Hope.
LOLA’s studio space was already bustling with activity when we arrived to observe. The creative crew were deep in preparations, sorting wardrobe, setting up hair and makeup stations, adjusting lighting. All the myriad tasks that it takes to pull off a fashion shoot. With some of the day’s models already there, the buzz of activity quickly fell into a steady rhythm that kept up the whole day. From wardrobe fittings and styling, on to a walk through of the concept for their shoots.
The overarching theme of the day could best be summed up as “vibrant.” Creative Director Danielle Moore‘s brightly colored sets were thoughtful and creative representations of what matters to the participants—from Angelica’s love of food and family to Darryl’s drive to help other’s reach great heights. As each shoot progressed it was amazing to watch as our alumni and the other participants grew more comfortable in front of the camera and posed like seasoned pros under the fantastic direction of photographer Maria Del Rio.
It was even more powerful to listen as they spoke about their time in foster care, sharing what they wish they’d known, the paths they’ve taken, what has helped them along the way, and their words of wisdom for young people in foster care today.
We are so grateful to everyone at LOLA and LADYGUNN for lifting the voices of former foster youth!
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