Health

Former Foster Youth Providing a Bag Full of Hope

Shane

Shane is a San Diego County teenager on a mission.

He may only be 13 years old, but he’s on pace to become an Eagle Scout about four years before most Boy Scouts do and he’s raising funds for a very special project that’s near to his heart.

Shane, a former foster youth, is raising money to purchase a duffel bag, flashlight, teddy bear and blanket for at least 100 San Diego County foster youth.

He’s doing that so other foster youth can avoid an unfortunate situation that left quite an impression on him.

“When I was moving from family to family all my possessions were put in a black trash bag,” he said. “Everything I had was in a trash bag.

“It just came to me – I went through that. That was my experience.”

Shane was in foster care from age 5 to 9, but at age 7 he went to live with Lisa Uribe, who adopted him two years later.

It’s sometimes easy to forget how impressionable young people can be. Lisa tells a story about buying Shane a soccer ball, and he kept asking if he got to keep it. At first she didn’t understand – to her it was obvious she bought the ball for him.

But in his experiences, Shane hadn’t been able to keep things from previous foster families (families who have multiple foster children often buy things for use by more than one child or hang on to them for future foster children they host).

And then there was the black trash bag his possessions traveled in.

“I would have loved to have a duffel bag, a blanket to keep me warm, a flashlight if I got scared and a teddy bear to hold close if I had a nightmare,” he said.

He has thrived with his new family and has risen quickly through the ranks of scouting. According to the Boy Scouts of America website, the average age of boys earning the Eagle Scout rank is 17 years old.

When it came time to choose his Eagle Scout project, Lisa thought he was being pretty ambitious.

Shane set his goal at $7,500 to raise the funds necessary to purchase the bags and contents. In about a month, he’s raised nearly $6,500 and is on pace to surpass his goal.

“I thought it would take a year to raise the money,” said Lisa. “But he’s really stuck to it.

“I’m really proud of him.”

A lot of leg work went in to the project. First, Shane had to convince Boy Scout officials that his project was acceptable. Under scouting guidelines, an Eagle Scout service project must be helpful to any religious institution, school or your community.

Shane’s project to benefit foster youth didn’t fit that traditional definition but he was determined and finally gained approval.

“It was a lot of leg work to get started,” said Lisa. “He probably put in 15 hours of work to get the project approved.”

Shane then set out to develop his fundraising website and cement a deal with the San Diego County Foster Parent Association to distribute the bags.

“They are going to distribute them to kids in emergency situations and those who don’t have anything,” said Shane.

He has made presentations to a local church and Kiwanis club, spread the word via Facebook and been featured in an Adopt8 segment on KFMB-TV.

Once he reaches his goal, however, Shane has no plans to stop working on his project.

“It would definitely be great if I can get something going that’s more permanent,” he said.

He’s even sat down with an uncle and penciled out how much money it would take each year to keep the project going.

“I’m going to keep going and try to help as many foster kids as I can,” Shane said. “I wanted to make an impact.”

To help Shane reach his goal or to read more about his project you can visit his website.

Tom Christensen is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact