WATCH: Fostering Christmas Cheer
SAN ANGELO, TX -- Tis the season of lights, decorations, caroling, tasty holiday treats, and of course the many gifts under the Christmas tree but what shouldn't be forgotten is the joy of giving and its lasting impact.
At Angelo State University creating opportunities regarding a relatively new program hasn’t just followed a holiday theme.
Since 2017 Dr. Crystal Kreitler and the members of the Fostering Ram Success program at Angelo State University have made it their mission to create an environment filled with support and resources for foster care students.
In the State of Texas, there are approximately 30,000 individuals in foster care while at Angelo State there are over 150 students having self-identified coming from foster care.
The Fostering Ram Success Program was created to give youth previously placed in foster care not only quality education but the support along the way.
“At times it’s difficult talking about these students,” said Dr. Crystal Kreitler, Associate Professor of Psychology at Angelo State University and Faculty Advisor to the Fostering Ram Success Program. “I get emotional because they want families. They often age out of the foster care program at age 18. We have over 80 percent of these individuals at 18 that will report wanting to go to college but only 2 to 9 percent make it to a campus and graduate from college.”
In addition to identifying these students, it’s about giving students from foster care an opportunity to shine.
“When you talk to these students, and you meet with them it hurts your heart to know they really want a family and want a normal college experience and at Angelo State we want to give that to them,” said Dr. Kreilter.
For Candace Aguirre, Liason Program Coordinator for Fostering Rams Success her goal is not only to help foster students achieve college success but to give them what they need to do so.
"It's a harder sell to get them to come and ask for help," said Aguirre. "Ultimately they have probably been told no the majority of their life. We try to help them with everything outside of the natural scope of what a student can provide for themselves."
On-campus students from foster care have a space located in the Texan Hall Dormitory called the Fostering Ram Success Lounge. It’s a place for them to unwind and hang out in their own space. The lounge also has items donated day-to-day food items along with backpacks and duffels. The lounge has recently received a full-sized refrigerator to accommodate additional donations.
Off-campus Billy and Laura Scott of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and Addresses Realtors have stepped up to assist the Fostering Ram Success Program to help provide Christmas gifts to these students.
“About 10 years ago we started a community Christmas tree as a way to give back to different organizations in our community,” said Laura Scott. “This year we are very excited to partner with Angelo State and their fairly new program Fostering Ram Success.”
The Christmas tree at the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Addresses Realtors office located at 3005 Green Meadow Drive has tags labeled for a gift for a foster care student. To participate community members are encouraged to pick up a tag and return with a gift by Monday, December 6th.
The real estate agency will also be hosting the foster care students on Wednesday, December 8th to hand out the gifts from the community.
“As former Angelo State University students we like to give back to Ram Fam,” said Billy Scott. “I know that might sound cliché but that is family. Giving back to these students at Angelo State University means the world to us.”