Editors Note: Straight from the Heart is an organization that has been here in San Marcos for over 15 years. However, it just came into my awareness recently because of my involvement in the San Elijo Hills Women’s Club. The San Elijo Hills Women’s Club, a local philanthropic & social group, has chosen Straight from the Heart as one of their primary charities. As a result, I have had the opportunity to tour their facilities, interview the founder and to witness some of the work this 100% volunteer organization is doing for foster families throughout the area. As a long-time resident of San Marcos, I wish I had been aware of this organization sooner. They offer several very tangible and direct ways to make an impact right here in our local community, so I wanted share with you some of the things I’ve learned about the organization, the amazing people they serve, and ways you can support their efforts.
Straight from the Heart is a non-profit resource center for foster, adoptive, kinship children and their caregivers. They provide support and advocacy to the children and families who navigate a very complex and overburdened Child Welfare System. Their volunteer staff is made up of foster and adoptive parents who understand the challenges first-hand because they have lived it themselves. In fact, the Founder, Patty Boles, has fostered over 100 children herself over the years. This mother of 11 (one birth child who is now 39, as well as 10 adopted children) Patty has a passion for serving foster children and parents. She has experienced the challenges and the evolution of the system over the last several decades and now offers herself up as a resource to others.
When Patty and her husband first decided to foster a child, it was a very traumatic experience. The child that came their way was very sick and there really was no support back then for foster parents. When Patty met another foster mom, Nadiene Sahagun, they immediately bonded and realized the value of sharing experiences and resources. This eventually led to the beginning of the North San Diego Foster Parent Association in the early 80s. They would host meetings at churches and community rooms, bringing in local experts (Sheriff’s department, social workers, etc.) to educate foster parents about trauma, drug exposure, foster parent rights and responsibilities.
This eventually led to the creation of the non-profit Straight from the Heart. Their facilities sit in the strip mall right at the corner of Bent Ave. and San Marcos Blvd.
Maybe you’re familiar with the Straight from the Heart Thrift Shop. It is a great little shop full of donations from throughout the community. Anyone can shop there and all proceeds benefit foster families. In fact, stop in some day. You’ll be amazed at what great things you find – from infant to adult clothing, toys, household items and more.
But, that’s only the start. The store is also a fabulous resource for foster families who visit regularly because they can purchase children’s clothing for 50 cents a piece and receive a 50% discount on all other merchandise. This is such a valuable resource for foster parents because foster children arrive with only the clothes on their backs and they have to be ready for school the next day! The store makes it possible for foster parents to quickly stock up on what that child needs.
But, this building is more than a thrift store. The Straight from the Heart Resource Center has three training rooms and offers on-going training to foster families to teach them how to work with difficult behaviors and medical concerns. They help them connect to important Community Resources, teach them their legal rights, how to work as a member of the Child Welfare Team, and most importantly, how to deal with grief, separate and loss for the children and then for the foster family when children are reunified with their families.
Straight from the Heart also plays a large role in advocacy for foster families – helping foster parents learn how to properly document in preparation of court hearings – especially medical records. Straight from the Heart played an active role in establishing what is now called the Caregiver Information Form – which ensures foster parents are heard. They were also pivotal in changing the law to protect the privacy of foster family homes. Straight from the Heart continues to work on behalf of foster families to support information sharing and with good working relationships with all of the county’s agencies, they are able to help foster families get the resources and information they need as things come up.
We can only scratch the surface of this amazing community resource in such a short article, but if you’re looking for a way to have an impact right here in our backyard, consider supporting Straight from the Heart. There are several ways you can make a difference right now:
There can never be enough cash in an organization like this. 100% volunteer run, their biggest expenses are rent and utilities. You can donate directly on their website or stop by any time with a check.
Donate Resale Goods
Straight from the Heart accepts donations of good quality items that they can sell in their Thrift Store.
Donate New Items
They can always use new items such as cribs, car seats, backpacks and toys. Contact them for details on what items are most needed.
Family Entertainment & Recreation
Another great way to give is to donate dance classes, camps, art classes or tickets to amusement parks, etc.
Straight from the Heart can always use an extra set of hands. They will gladly welcome you in the Thrift Store to help customers, stock, organize and clean up.
San Elijo Hills Women’s Club Annual Fundraiser
The SEHWC will be hosting a fundraising event on September 20 at Café Stoked in San Elijo Hills. This will be a fun Paris-themed night, great food and a silent auction. All proceeds will go directly to Straight from the Heart. You can donate an item for the silent auction or purchase a ticket to the event. All are welcome. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about Straight from the Heart, visit www.straightfromtheheartinc.org or stop by Tuesday through Friday and every second and fourth Saturday at 839 W San Marcos Blvd, San Marcos, 92078. (760) 744-2240.