CUMMING, Ga. — Victoria Hill, Miss Georgia 2019, will be one of the featured artists at a red-carpet event Sept. 28 in Cumming to benefit area nonprofits that serve foster children.
The event, Foster the Cause, is the initiative of Forsyth County residents Wayne and Sally Richards and Cindy and John Moon who are hosting the benefit at Polo Golf & Country Club.
Wayne Richards said he met Victoria Hill through his father, Joe, a decorated World War II veteran who befriended her when she was a home-schooled child of 14. During one of his daily walks for exercise, the young girl noticed Joe’s World War II hat and asked him to visit their home to discuss the war.
“A few years later, my father was in hospice, and Victoria sang to him for seven days before he was buried at Georgia National Cemetery in Canton,” Wayne Richards recalled. “She sang one last time for this World War II veteran, my father.”
Hill, now 21, was crowned Miss Georgia in June.
The Richards said they teamed up with the Moons to help Hill in her campaign to shine a light on foster care and support the families and organizations who help the children.
“We’re spending a lot of time helping her campaign,” Wayne Richards said.
Foster the Cause is designed to raise funds for two local homes that provide housing, guidance and support to foster children: Bald Ridge Lodge for boys in Cumming and North Georgia Angel House for girls in Canton.
More children than homes
The Georgia Division of Family and Children’s Services reports that Georgia has more than 14,000 children in foster care, and there are only about 5,000 homes certified to foster.
Support has already been pouring in through sponsorships, Sally Richards said. All donations from Foster the Cause are made out to either Bald Ridge Lodge or Angel House, she said.
She also pointed out that the foster system needs mentorships and employment opportunities for the young men and women preparing to leave foster care.
Donations for Foster the Cause should be made payable directly to either Bald Ridge Lodge, Inc. or North Georgia Angel House Inc. Donors should indicate «Foster the Cause» on the memo line of contributions. They may be mailed to the group’s business office: Cheshire Group Inc., Attn: Foster the Cause, 5755 North Point Parkway, Suite 14, Alpharetta, Georgia 30022, or a volunteer can arrange to stop by the donor’s office for pick up.
The event is from 6:30-9:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 28 at Polo Golf & Country Club, 6300 Polo Club Drive in Cumming.
The evening includes a formal chef dinner and musical entertainment featuring Miss Georgia performing Broadway and classical numbers. She will be accompanied by pianist and vocalist Brian Osborne, head of the Music Department at Reinhardt University.
More information can be found at: eventbrite.com/e/foster-the-cause-tickets-70518541857, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Current corporate sponsors include: Daikin Applied Americas Inc.; Wilkinson Real Estate Advisors Inc.; Berman Fink Van Horn P.C.; Pediatric Speech Therapy of Forsyth.
Tickets are $75, and all proceeds benefit either Bald Ridge Lodge or Angel House.
Miss Georgia speaks to Rotary
Aside from her appearances across the state as Miss Georgia, Hill has also been on the campaign trail locally, promoting support for foster care organizations.
The Canton native shared details of her campaign with the Lanier Forsyth Rotary Club at its weekly meeting Sept. 17.
Her platform, “Flip the Script on Foster Care,” has set three main goals that include raising awareness of the need of the Georgia foster care system, engaging businesses and organizations to help the children in foster care and encouraging mentorship for the young adults aging out of the system.
“Let’s flip the script,” Hill said. “Instead of seeing these children waiting on homes, I want to see homes waiting on children.”
She told Rotarians that “you don’t have to foster to help children in foster care.”
Other means of support include donating services. Local businesses have provided a new roof at North Georgia Angel House in Canton, where Hill serves as an intern.
Another company has taken care of plumbing needs at the home, and a third business partner is remodeling the back porch area. These are just some of the “many ways businesses and organizations can get plugged in,” she said.
Mentorship is another important service for the success of those aging out of the system at 18, Hill said.
When these young adults age out from the foster care program, she said, usually a couple of things happen within a short time. Statistics show that they end up homeless or incarcerated, she said.
Generational foster care can be prevented through mentorship, too.
“Young women end up pregnant at a very young age and are unable to take care of their children who are then having to be put in the foster care system,” Hill said. “So the cycle is continuing and becoming a bigger problem. We need to end that through mentoring and supporting teenagers who are now living life all by themselves, no family, no connections.”