VB Gives Back
#VBGIVESBACK: Selita Ebanks
April 1, 2016
We are honored to support New Yorkers For Children as part of our ongoing #VBGIVESBACK program and will be donating $10 of every VeronicaBeard.com order in April to the cause. Learn more about NYFC and model Selita Ebanks’ involvement in the Q&A below.
Since being discovered at age 17, Selita Ebanks has modeled for Ralph Lauren, appeared in music videos for Kanye West, and strutted down the runway wearing a $1 million bra for Victoria’s Secret. What you might not know about this model-actress is that she also spent time in the foster care system. It was this experience that led to her involvement with New Yorkers for Children in 2008. New Yorkers For Children (NYFC) is an organization that works to improve the well-being of youth in foster care through education, career development, mentorship and the strengthening of the child welfare system.
“WHEN YOU HAVE AN ORGANIZATION LIKE NEW YORKERS FOR CHILDREN, YOU CAN STAND ON THE SHOULDERS OF THEM AND KNOW ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE IF YOU JUST WORK HARD.”
There are currently 11,000 children in foster care in New York City, with more than 40% over the age of 12. The organization works to assist youth ages 12-21 as they begin to transition out of foster care and into adulthood by supporting them beyond what government funding can provide. Since its founding in 1996, NYFC has provided over $50 million to support youth in foster care.
What are your memories of being in the foster care system?
My memories of being in foster care were significant. I can remember arriving at the home of my first temporary foster parent, she was kind and she tucked me in. The room was lit by a soft bulb and the walls were wood paneled. She read me a story and told me everything would be alright. I was very young, maybe 5 or 6 [years old]. My memories are limited, but I will always remember that night. Not every foster home was as gentle. I think I went through only 3 or 4 homes over the next few months. It was a short lived experience, but then, I thought it was a lifetime.
What made you want to be involved with NYFC?
I empathize with children in foster care which made me want to be a part of New Yorkers For Children. I feel compelled to assist and spread the lesson that your past circumstance does not define for future potential.
Why is it important to offer additional support to these children?
I went into foster care under my own family's circumstances. No story is alike. For some, it's temporary, but for so many its life and after 12 years old, these children tend to be forgotten and not adopted. These are the children that NYFC hones in on. The mentorship and empowerment is essential in any young person’s life, let alone with a child that has had to endure displacement and/or abuse.
What has been your proudest moment with the organization?
Having a chance to connect with young people that have gone through a lot in their lives but are working so hard to better themselves through NYFC’s Guardian Scholars Program is incredible. [The Guardian Scholars Program provides financial, academic and emotional support to current and former foster care students.] When you have an organization like New Yorkers for Children, you can stand on the shoulder of them and know anything is possible if you just work hard.
“I CAN’T WAIT TO LOOK BACK AND SAY THAT KID WAS IN NEW YORKERS FOR CHILDREN AND THEY ARE NOW THE PRESIDENT.”
What makes you excited about the future of NYFC?
I’m really excited about continuing to see the growth of the program and more success stories. I can’t wait to look back and say that kid was in New Yorkers for Children and they are now the president or the mayor or the governor. Their testimony will inspire other young children to do the same thing.
How did modeling change your life?
I was a small girl who grew up between the Cayman Islands and Staten Island, who had dreams of being an entertainment lawyer or a journalist. Education was always my way out. I worked hard to accomplish those goals. When I was scouted, I didn’t think it would be a life changing business for me. It just catapulted me to a whole different world that I never dreamed of seeing.
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