It only took ten minutes. It took me ten minutes to realize these kids are as normal as any kid you would see at a local school or sitting in your living room among your own kids.
Last week I attended Foster Arizona’s Kid Connection Cooking event, an event sponsored by Foster Arizona, Bashas’, and Sur La Table (a cooking school in Scottsdale). The purpose of the event was to promote interaction between foster kids and the public. We started out at Bashas’ Grocery Store then ended at Sur La Table. When we arrived at Bashas’ we were greeted by a group of teenagers who were well-mannered and polite. The store set us up in the café courtyard and provided pizza and drinks. I joined the teens at the tables and immediately they welcomed me and began a conversation. The conversations ranged from sports to seeking employment. As I interacted with them, it took me less than ten minutes to realize, these are normal, healthy teenagers with goals. The conversations took me back to my youth when I had the same questions: where was I going to work, how much was considered good pay, and oh, who was going to win the NBA finals? That last conversation got a little heated but everyone had to agree that Lebron James may be better than Michael Jordan. We never did resolve that argument though.
After the Bashas’ staff provided a quick lesson on healthy food choices and how to search for sales, they split us into teams and gave us each a shopping list. The lists were prepared by David Traina at Liberty Market and all the items would be used to show us how to prepare the food at Sur La Table. After the shopping was completed, we traveled to the kitchen at Sur La Table. There, we were greeted by a staff of local chefs and assistants. It was fun watching some of the students show off their cooking talents and then seeing others watching in amazement as they flipped an egg for the first time. And of course, they all got to eat their own creations.
All in all it was a very fun and rewarding day. The other volunteers who helped also seemed to have fun and the kids were fully engaged. This Kids’ event was awesome. I’m glad to have been able to spend the day with a bunch of great teenagers. Teenagers with bright futures.
The sad part about the experience was that all of these kids are on the verge of aging out of the foster care system because they did not find a forever family. Imagine how much more successful they could be if they did have a family to call their own. Something to ponder.
Allen R. Moore
Director of School Safety and Security, Mesa Public Schools