“Surprised and thrilled” was how Jacqueline Caster felt after being awarded Woman of the Year by California State Senator Ben Allen.
Senator Allen, of the 26th Senate District, has continued a California State Senate tradition, as he annually hosts the Woman of the Year Award at the Santa Monica Bay Women’s Club. Recognizing women who stand out and lead the way to manufacturing change in their communities. This year, Caster, the Founder and President of Everychild Foundation, was commended for her work in helping the youth mired in struggles and disadvantages like neglect, abuse, and poverty.
“[Caster] has been a dogged advocate for the disenfranchised, for the dispossessed, for a group of very vulnerable people,” said Senator Allen. “These children who have been cast aside by society, who have made mistakes, they are oftentimes very underserved by our system in various respects.”
As Caster was recognized for her work, guest speakers of the evening included retired presiding judge of the Los Angeles County’s Juvenile Court, Michael Nash, Elizabeth Lopez of the Mar Vista Family Center, and spoken-word performances from Get Lit Players Miles Burke and Monique Mitchell.
Also part of the LA County Probation Committee, Caster is very much involved in the juvenile corrections scene.
“Everychild [Foundation] introduced me to all the issues regarding juvenile detention systems,” Caster said. “The failure to help kids in the LA county and the awareness is what made me become more active in that area.”
Everychild’s approach to making a difference consists of having a base of 200 members who each donate $5,000 a year, generating a sum of one million dollars. This large amount of money is then given as a grant to a successful nonprofit organization that works to address the issue of underserved youth in the community.
Looking forward, Caster described her plans for expansion.
“We are trying to get even more involved besides our grant making and have a bigger impact [by] growing our public policy advocacy committee,” she said. “The grants we make is something we hope to replicate, and fund projects that can be copied all over—around the world.”
Quite evident is Everychild Foundation’s push to change the lives of kids and move mountains on the local level.
Senator Allen said, “She could have spent her time doing other things but she was focused on some of the most vulnerable people in our society. She has been effective, been relentless, been committed, and has been dogged and I think that deserved our recognition of her.
“The issues she has worked on are issues that are off a lot of other people’s radar screens. My heart has been touched by her work and I wanted more people’s hearts to be touched.”
If you would like to be a part of Everychild Foundation’s cause or for more information, feel free to visit their website to see what you can do.