When offered the opportunity to “give back,” Cody Rivera ‘17 more than rose to the occasion. This summer, Rivera completed an internship with the organization FosterClub, which seeks to connect current and former participants in the foster care system. Throughout the months of July and August, he worked to advance the organization’s mission of serving and honoring the perspectives of young people.
Rivera, a former participant in the foster care system, attended five organizational conferences in Oregon, Missouri and California, including FosterClub’s Camp to Belong which brings together siblings in foster care for a week of fun and connections in Rockaway Beach, Oregon. Other conferences provided young people an opportunity to tell their stories in a safe setting as well as to develop relationships with advocates.
He was proud to assist FosterClub in advocating for the Family First Prevention Services Act. “This is one of the largest, and one of the most influential, pieces of child welfare legislation in the past 40 years,” he says.
According to Rivera, the internship also allowed him to develop “a better sense of identity within my educational career, all while assisting in the development of identity of the youth in foster care.” Given the opportunity to facilitate informative workshops, engage in fundraising efforts and write reflective blog posts for the organization, Rivera distinguished himself as an “All-Star” intern.
“My FosterClub All Star internship was one of the most meaningful experiences in my life because I was able to educate and learn from hundreds of youth in the foster care system across America,” he says.
At HWS, Rivera is majoring in architecture and minoring in anthropology. Last year, he was awarded funding by the HWS Centennial Center for Leadership to travel to New York City to conduct interviews regarding the identities of biological, foster and adopted children.
FosterClub is a national non-profit organization started in 2000 in Seaside, Oregon by Celeste Bodner, current CEO. It has since developed into a national network for youth in and out of foster care, seeking to lead the efforts of young people to become connected, educated, inspired and represented in order to realize their personal potential and contribute to a better life for their peers.