When Grace Trigler first signed up to be on the Angels Foster Family Network junior board, she, like many teenagers, was simply looking for opportunities to serve her community and help build her resume for college applications. What she wasn’t expecting was the lasting impact she would make on her community and the many ways this organization and its mission would become a true passion.
Founded in 2008 by executive director Jennifer Abney, Angels Foster Family Network is a nonprofit organization helping children in foster care find permanency through foster care and then returning to their biological home or adoption. Angels has also been instrumental in changing how our state manages foster care and supports its foster families and children.
“After being involved with Angels, it’s easy to have a passion for foster care when I think of all the opportunities I’ve grown up with and then see how many kids in foster care aren’t given many of those same chances,” said Trigler. “All kids should know they have opportunities to succeed.”
Increasing impact through innovative ideas
After joining the newly formed Angels junior board in 2018, Trigler was chosen to serve as its president for the 2019-2020 year. The junior board, comprised of high school students, supports Angels by volunteering at various events and developing their own service projects.
Many of the volunteer opportunities looked very different during 2020 due to COVID-19, which prompted the organization’s leadership to think of creative ways to continue to serve its families.
“We keep a stock of freezer meals that we provide to our [foster] families when they have hard days, but we noticed it was getting low because of rising needs in the wake of COVID-19, so we started thinking of innovative solutions to this issue,” said Trigler.
One of those solutions was for Trigler to plan and write an application for a $10,000 grant from the Communities Foundation of Oklahoma that would enable Angels to provide its foster families with frozen meals from local restaurants.
Trigler and Abney knew many of the local restaurants that have supported Angels in the past have also faced difficulties during the recent shutdowns. If they could use these funds to partner with local restaurants, the project would have double the impact on the community.
“This grant will not only help us support our families, but it will also help Angels give back to some of the local restaurants that have been so generous to us,” Abney said. “We’re excited to see this project come full-circle.”
Angels was awarded the grant and is in the process of meeting with potential restaurant partners to bring this mutually-beneficial project to life.
The lasting lessons of mentorship
Trigler said writing this grant was one of many impactful ways she got to glimpse behind-the-scenes efforts of the nonprofit’s team.
“I saw how important it was to have a really strong plan, to be able to put that plan into words concisely and creatively, then to put it into action,” said Trigler. “Being a part of this board has given me such valuable experience to see first-hand how a nonprofit is run and has given me insight that will make me more effective at serving my community.”
Much of what Trigler learned through this experience was thanks to Abney’s guidance and mentorship.
“I think it’s important to take the time to be a good mentor, and it’s refreshing and rewarding to work alongside young people,” said Abney. “They often have a confidence and energy that is so inspiring. Hopefully Grace’s experience with Angels is something she can carry with her throughout her life to inspire her to always make things even bigger and better than she ever thought they could be.”
A 2020 graduate of Deer Creek High School, Trigler will attend the University of Oklahoma this fall, majoring in environmental engineering. But she plans to continue her work with Angels through its new Norman office. She also dreams of one day starting her own nonprofit.
“I’m so thankful to Angels for opening my eyes to the idea of community service for young people,” she said. “I’m thankful for the chance to grow personally while also helping my community and being constantly inspired to serve others.”
Kristy Blosch, MBA is a former marketing and communications director and current stay-at-home mom to two boys, Noah (4) and Judah (2). She is married to Cody, and together their family can usually be found traveling, hiking, camping, cooking and cheering on the OSU Cowboys.