We are the Keli May Foundation. Developed in 2017 in Gilbert, we started with a simple goal: to make an impact in the lives of those who are aging out of the foster care system. Our inspiration was the one and only Keli Ariana-Renee Rutledge. A local musician, woman of faith and beloved daughter and friend whose life was tragically and suddenly cut short at 18 years old due to a head on collision caused by an impaired driver. After finding out she aspired to attend school to major in social work, her parents, Warren and Cynthia Rutledge, decided to devote their time and energy towards the creation of a foundation that would help those she desired to devote her career towards. What started as a way to honor Keli and her passion for her community has grown into a source for positive change in the lives of local youth. We host local events for youth, fundraisers, financial support and are working towards the eventual construction of the Keli May Campus which will include eight residential buildings, inspiring outdoor spaces, transportation, laundry facilities, cafeterias, education spaces, staff and more for youth in foster care navigating the obstacles of adulthood. However, we know that great community projects begin with support from those with the same goals and that is how we began our involvement with Foster Arizona.
The Keli May Foundation was first introduced to Foster Arizona through a meeting with its founder, Kim Vehon, three years ago. Our budding organization was looking to partner with other programs that focused on changing the lives of kids in foster care, as they transition into adulthood, and most importantly, programs that shared the same values. During one of our social media searches, we found out that Kim was personally working to create legislation changes to improve the lives of young adults in foster care and was in need of advocates to come to the Arizona Senate to voice the importance of vital documents for youth before aging out of foster care. Persons passionate about this cause were asked to speak on the need of vital credentials, such as social security cards and birth certificates for future success and independence of these young adults. Since that first encounter with Kim, we’ve continued to support the foster community, linking arms with Foster Arizona, by assisting their live-in program participants in various opportunities. We couldn’t be more excited for the events to come and our continued partnership.
We are grateful to Foster Arizona for supporting our mission and making our efforts their own. Through partnerships like this, we can move closer and closer to our goals and change more lives for the better. We know that Keli would be proud to see the work we are completing and believe her impact lives on. We encourage readers to continue to support great organizations like Foster Arizona through events and charitable acts that support their vision. Here at the Keli May Foundation, we know community involvement serves as the “roots” to develop a brighter future for those who are seeking guidance and a community that embraces them.