Tags Posts tagged with "Foster Care"

Foster Care

0 8658
Photo Courtesy of NFFC

Megan DeBoer

Imagine being a 7-year-old in the back of a locked police car being taken away from home with only a plastic garbage bag. This was University of Nebraska at Omaha alumna Kristi Martin’s reality.

Martin, who graduated from UNO in 2008 with a bachelor’s in psychology, minor in sociology and certificate in gerontology, was removed from her home and placed into the Nebraska foster care system at age 70.

Her experience in Nebraska’s foster care system stuck with her. One year after graduating from UNO, Martin discovered the per-fect opportunity to make a positive impact and joined the board of the local nonprofit group Nebraska Friends of Foster Children (NFFC).

By 2016, Martin was asked to fill the role of president and has continued to make improvements to NFFC.

Founded in 1992, NFFC is on a mission to enrich the lives of children in Nebraska foster care by funding requests for experiences and items to help foster care children “explore, learn and grow,” according to Martin.

As a volunteer and nonprofit organization, NFFC ensures the money it raises reaches the children it’s meant to serve. Since its cre-ation, 95 percent of funds raised have been given directly to those in need.

Some key ingredients to NFFC’s organization are Nebraska pride and Maverick spirit. In fact, nearly half of NFCC volunteers graduated or will graduate from UNO.

Several NFFC board members have a connection to UNO, including 2009 graduate Mitch Cunningham who has a degree in management information systems and Liz Hruska, who graduated in 1977 with a degree in urban studies and 1981 with a master’s in public administration.

UNO freshman Kami Baker had never heard of NFFC, but once she did, she was on board with the mission of the organization. Baker said if an opportunity to volunteer with NFFC came up, she’d “definitely” be interested.

“It sounds like a really good organization,” Baker said. “I’m so glad it helps children in the area.”

Since May is foster care awareness month, NFFC will host several events.

May 6, NFFC is hosting a Speak-easy Soiree fundraising event at the Pella at Blackstone, which will feature hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and a silent auction. For more in-formation, visit NFFC’s Facebook page or email Megan DeBoer at megandeboer@unomaha.edu

On May 24, Omaha Gives will hold its fifth annual online 24-hour charitable challenge beginning at midnight. NFFC is one of the nonprofits available to select for donations. A $10 minimum donation is required to donate. More information is available at OmahaGives.org.

0 4106

Will Patterson

Brandon McDermott, a KVNO reporter and a journalism student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, has forged a path from a childhood shrouded in conflict to a bright future.

“I’ve had a weird life,” McDermott said, “I’m very happy with where I am.”

His life began in a tumultuous family. Father and mother married when he was 3 years old and divorced when he was 5. Both parents never received education past the eighth grade.

McDermott’s childhood education took him to seven elementary schools, four junior high schools and a single high school— Benson. This constant moving was caused by a variety reasons, most involving his parent’s inability to stay out of trouble and hold custody.

These early years were marked by abuse. McDermott’s father was emotionally and physically abusive towards his wife and his children, which ultimately resulted in McDermott’s time in the foster care program, at age 8.

What McDermott describes as the worst days of his life came when he was 13 years old and began with witnessing his father physically assaulting his girlfriend, Kim. During a heated argument, his father pushed Kim down a flight of stairs causing her to sustain an injury to her head. This ultimately resulted in her death ten days later, leaving behind three young children.

When Kim had first been taken to the hospital McDermott’s father had lied to police, saying that she had slipped and fallen down the staircase. He also encouraged his son to participate in the lie.

McDermott kept up the lie for the majority of a 13-hour interrogation. When police presented him the reality of the evidence and implications of a criminal record he told the truth. This would contribute to his father’s arrest and eventual conviction.

In the time following his father’s arrest, McDermott was isolated in the foster care system for a second time. Court orders blocked him from attending school due to the risk of his father being released on bail and trying to abduct him. It was during these long days that he found his fondness of radio, compiling a list of 300 songs he enjoyed.

McDermott recalls thinking during this time, “I could use this for bad, use this to become a statistic. Or I could take this moment in my life and use this to be good and to be the best I can. To show him and the world I’m not my father.”

As many know, the Foster Care program can be difficult place. McDermott had a mixed experience, ranging from lifelong positive impacts to manipulating care-takers. His time in the program ended when his mother proved to the state that she had a home and could raise her children.

McDermott attributes many of the positive impacts in his life to those he met and who helped him at his high school, Benson. During his time in Omaha Public Schools, he was a part of a career program. In this program McDermott explored the career option of broadcast— an experience that would leave a lasting impact on his life.

“Benson made me who I am today,” McDermott said. “I made some of my best friends and met some of the best teachers there.”

Although he graduated on time, McDermott left high school with a 1.68 GPA. This axed most plans for higher education, but he still eventually found a job at Data Transmission Network. Here he climbed up until receiving a decent paying management position.

He left this life to return to the field of broadcasting, which he described as “his first love,” when the opportunity arose to get a position at KVNO. The following success and rise in KVNO spurred McDermott’s desire to obtain a degree, which he is currently in the process of earning.

Readers can hear McDermott’s stories airing on KVNO 90.7 FM during the morning newscats at 6, 7 and 8 a.m.

Brandon McDermott is not the collection of unfortunate things that have happened to him. He is the proof that one’s origin does not define their future.

“I deserved to be a statistic. I deserved to be one of those odds that don’t make it,” McDermott said. “I flew in the face of that and I’ve flown in the face of that my whole life.”