As the population continues to grow, so does the populace of unsupervised youth. In 1992 OCJ Kids and their founders Gary and Tammie W., had a vision to create an afterschool program that reaches out to our society’s undirected adolescence. Gary knew that without productive and positive activities kids are easily influenced by negative surroundings including gangs, drugs, and violence. Gary made it a mission to provide a positive foundation to guide kids down the right path.
Thanks to success of the OCJ Kids after school programs they launched the Fostering Connections project in 2006. With an ever growing population of kids in the foster care system, of which hundreds a year transition into independent living at the age of 18, Gary knew statistically that without life skill trainings, financial literacy, mentoring, or bare necessities’ a large number of transitioning kids would end up homeless and hopeless. The majority of these children are being placed into foster care with nothing more than the clothes on their back or a garbage bag with few treasured items. In addition to basic tools and resources the Fostering Connections project, with the support of local churches and donations from the community, provides welcome kits and suitcases filled with everything from bus passes, grooming, hygiene item, and under garments to local group homes. It’s no surprise Gary’s belief in building a foundation of success for Arizona’s underprivileged youth has not gone unnoticed. Thank you Gary for your continued dedication to Arizona’s kids, you deserve to be honored as our Neighborhood Hero..