The Character Movement

Girl wearing backpack facing away walking down a street in autumn

HUGS – how one girl helps foster kids

By Sarah Gavigan, Youth Frontiers Communications Specialist

We facilitate retreats because we want all students to know that they matter, others matter and what they do matters. Sometimes the way students respond to this message astounds us.

The day after her Courage Retreat®, Guadalupe reached out to Youth Frontiers with a favor to ask. She requested that we send her not one, not a hand-full, but 4oo Courage buttons. That’s a lot of courage, we thought to ourselves. Why would a 12-year-old girl from Fort Atkinson, Wis., want so many small orange buttons? 

The answer: to give them away.

“I have my own foundation, HUGS, and I donate suitcases and backpacks for the foster children of Jefferson County Human Services,” she wrote. “I was wondering if I could get like maybe 400 courage pins so I could put them on the backpacks and suitcases for the foster children … so they would know they should have courage.”

Guadalupe’s mission began with courage too. She wrote in an email that she started the nonprofit HUGS (originally standing for Helping Underprivileged Girls Succeed) when she was nine years old. She had been in and out of foster care as a young child and this awakened in her an empathy for others who were also experiencing challenges in childhood. Ultimately, her adopted mother inspired her to do something to help other kids.

Guadalupe took action. She traveled around her county seeking support from the community. Out of their donations and Guadalupe’s determination, HUGS was born. HUGS now sells popcorn and homemade soap to buy backpacks and luggage for foster children of all genders in Guadalupe’s community.

In October, the Courage Retreat reaffirmed Guadalupe’s desire to have a positive impact on the lives of others. Her favorite part of the retreat? The pebble in the pond sharing. At the end of the retreat, we ask students to commit to an act of courage and then symbolically drop a pebble in a bowl of water to show that their actions have a ripple effect. If a pebble creates ripples, imagine what all those courage buttons will do.

Thanks, Guadalupe, for the good work you are doing and for sharing your story with us!

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