Benefit raises 30K for Fostering Connections Career Readiness Academy

Program supports teens impacted by foster care


Fostering Connections recently hosted the annual Night of the Arts fundraiser at the link in Nocatee to benefit its Career Readiness Academy program. The event was chaired by Fostering Connections board member Lori Pugh Marcum. Night of the Arts was sponsored by the Lynch Family Automotive Group and attended by 150 guests from across Northeast Florida.

Guests were treated to an array of appetizers, desserts, drinks, a live auction, a silent auction, a photo booth provided by Leonard’s Photography, a live paint by local artist Jessica Shippee and live entertainment by John Csorba, Ohana Hui Jax and Flagler College Theater Arts students.

Past foster parent Greg Driskell gave a moving testimony about his late foster daughter Rosie and a call to action to guests to support the programs of Fostering Connections that serve teens aging out of foster care.

More than $30,000 was raised at the event.

“It was so wonderful seeing all of our guests in attendance and their passion for supporting youth in care,” said Aubrie Simpson-Gotham, founder and CEO at Fostering Connections. “There is much work to continue to do to help youth in care. We are changing lives, one child a time.”

“Night of the Arts was an extraordinary evening,” said Rob Thomas, board chair at Fostering Connections. “As I reflect on the success of the event, I am grateful knowing how many kids Fostering Connections will now be able to assist through Career Readiness and other essential programs.”

The Career Readiness Academy is a job skills training program for teens ages 14-19 impacted by foster care focusing on:

  • Career skills assessment, job application, resume writing, interview skills, work attire, employee etiquette, customer service and basic budgeting.
  • Job shadowing in career fields of interest.
  • Internship opportunities.

Since launching Career Readiness Academy in 2020, 24 students have completed the program. This year, the program is expanding to Duval and Volusia counties. For more information about this program, email or call 904-813-5809.

Fostering Connections is a nonprofit organization that lifts up children and youth impacted by foster care or trauma by providing needed essentials, educational programs and community connections. Established in 2019, Fostering Connections serves youth impacted by foster care or trauma from birth through age 24 in St. Johns, Duval, Putnam, Flagler and Volusia counties.

In 2021, Fostering Connections served more than 150 youth across Northeast Florida.