Adoption & Foster Care Mentoring announces today that Executive Director Colby Swettberg has been selected as a member of the 2012 class of Angels in Adoption™ by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. Swettberg, who is also an executive member of the Massachusetts Commission on LGBT Youth, and who, while at Home for Little Wanderers, helped found Waltham House, the nation’s first group home for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth, will be honored with 140 other Angels from around the country at an awards ceremony September 12.
Swettberg was nominated for the award by U.S. Sen. John Kerry, who cited Swettberg’s outstanding advocacy of foster care issues. “Foster care is a calling. It demands incredible nurturing to build the trust and relationship needed to help a child open up when so much of their life experience teaches them to do the opposite,” said US Sen. John Kerry. “Colby has proven that she gets it. She’s improved the lives of countless children, especially LGBT youth. Her work is an inspiration to all, and we are grateful for her commitment to foster children everywhere.”
Other Angels this year include actress Katherine Heigl, singer/songwriter Josh Kelley, and PEOPLE Magazine. Past Angels in Adoption™ awardees include First Lady Laura Bush, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Kristin Chenoweth, Rhea Perlman, Bruce Willis, Al Roker, Muhammad Ali, Patti LaBelle, Jane Seymour, and Henry Winkler.
“Colby is a visionary leader whose deep understanding of the child welfare system and commitment to innovation is helping create better futures for foster and adopted youth in our state,” said Justin Pasquariello, Chair of the Board of Directors of Adoption & Foster Care Mentoring. “Our organization is one of a few in the country that employs a model of mentoring and enrichment to serve young people in foster care. Under Colby’s leadership, we are making a tremendous impact.”
“I’m humbled to receive this award. Youth with foster care and adoption backgrounds are some of our most vulnerable. Over the course of a year, more than half of the young people we serve who are affiliated with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families can move more than six times,” said Swettberg. “The older youth we work with, who are aging out of the foster care system, are rarely equipped to live independently. We are focused on working with them to teach them the life skills they need to succeed.”
The Angels in Adoption™ program is the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s signature public awareness campaign and provides an opportunity for all members of the U.S. Congress to honor the good work of their constituents who have enriched the lives of foster children and orphans in the United States and abroad.
“The Angels in Adoption™ program is unlike any other program in the Nation’s Capital. Because of it, over 1800 “Angels” have come to share with Washington their adoption experience and left with a renewed excitement of all that adoption makes possible,” said Kathleen Strottman, Executive Director of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. “I learned one simple lesson from my time on the Hill, knowledge is power. Angels in Adoption is meant to give Members of Congress the knowledge they need to use the power they have toward making the dream of a family a reality for every child.”
The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) is a 501(c)3 nonpartisan organization dedicated to raising awareness about the tens of thousands of orphans and foster children in the United States and the millions of orphans around the world in need of permanent, safe, and loving homes through adoption. CCAI’s goal is the elimination of the barriers that hinder these children from realizing their basic right of a family.
CCAI was created in 2001 by the active co-chairs of the bicameral, bipartisan Congressional Coalition on Adoption (CCA) to more effectively raise Congressional and public awareness about the issue of adoption.
The Angels in Adoption™ program was established in 1999 to honor outstanding individuals.
AFC serves over 130 foster and adopted youth in Greater Boston through two primary programs. AFCMentors, our one-to-one mentoring program, matches foster youth with caring adult volunteer mentors. In addition to their one-on-one time, these “matches” participate in group activities to facilitate the development of positive peer relationships and a sense of community. AFCLeaders, our group mentoring program, serves youth ages 14 and older as they prepare to “age out” of foster care. AFCLeaders provides the lifeskills, knowledge, and supports necessary to ensure that teens can successfully transition to adulthood after they are emancipated from the child welfare system. Adoption & Foster Care Mentoring empowers youth in foster care to flourish through committed mentoring relationships and the development of essential life skills.We envision a time when all youth know that they are valued and capable of greatness.