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MDUSD seeks contributions for homeless and foster youth during holidays

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, October 28th, 2011 at 7:28 pm in Education.

In the Mt. Diablo school district, many foster youth and homeless children struggle to survive day to day.

But the district’s School Linked Services Department, headed up by James Wogan, has programs that help them in a variety of ways.

Every year, Wogan sends out a message inviting those in the community to make donations to help make the holidays a little brighter for these students. Here is this season’s invitation:

“Dear Friends,

I am writing to let you know about children in our community who do not have enough to eat, adequate clothes to wear to school, and who are without a predictable place to sleep at night. I am writing from Mt. Diablo Unified School District’s Foster Youth Services (FYS) and Homeless Outreach Program for Education (HOPE), model programs that foster youth serve and homeless students and in grades K-12. Foster youth and homeless children live throughout our school district and the Bay Area.

In the spirit of the holiday season, please accept this as an invitation to assist our local foster youth and homeless children and to consider how we can work together to support their education. During the 2010-11 school year, HOPE served 515 homeless students (a record high) and FYS served 212 foster youth. Many of our homeless children live with parents who lost their jobs, can’t afford to pay the rent or mortgage, and care deeply about their children’s education. They live in motels, cars, homeless shelters, churches, The Winter Nights program, ‘double up’ with friends or family members, or are unaccompanied teenagers who ‘couch surf.’  They defy the stereotypes about homelessness. Foster youth live with foster families to whom we are very grateful, relative caregivers, or at one of the five group homes in our district.

The good news is that Mt. Diablo’s Department of School Linked Services runs FYS and HOPE and works collaboratively with district personnel and State, county and community agencies dedicated to improving the well being and education of our kids. I’m impressed by the strength and resiliency of the children and teenagers who have overcome many barriers to do well in school.

Over the past five years, FYS and HOPE has received generous donations from our friends, teachers, parents, students, the Special Education Dept., TIS Dept., district office personnel, PTSA groups, school board members, Local One M & O, CST, CSEA, School Psychologists MDSPA,  Supervisory – all of the bargaining units in our district. Google has generously donated to Mt. Diablo homeless children for the past three years. THANK YOU!

If you would like to contribute to the educational success of our foster children or homeless students this year, and help to make their holiday season a little brighter, please consider donating Kohl’s, Target, Safeway, Trader Joe’s, or other gift cards. Gift cards are easy to distribute and allow students and families to choose their own clothes, food, or gifts for each other. If you or your organization would like to sponsora family with over $250, please e-mail Elsa Dalpiaz, Secretary, School Linked Services at and copy me at With permission, we will link you with foster children or a homeless family.

Please send contributions or requests for information to: James Wogan, District Foster Youth and Homeless Liaison, Mt. Diablo Unified School District, 2730 Salvio St., Concord, CA 94519. If you prefer, you can drop off contributions to: Lori Amenta at the Mt. Diablo Unified District Office, 1936 Carlotta Drive, Concord, CA, 94519. Tel: (925) 682-8000 x3054. Please make checks payable to ‘MDUSD HOPE’ and indicate if you would like a receipt for tax purposes. 100 percent of all contributions will support foster youth and homeless students.

PLEASE forward this letter to your coworkers, friends, and family.

Thank you for your consideration.

Have a happy holiday season.

Yours truly,
James C. Wogan, MFT, LCSW, PPSC
Administrator, School Linked Services
Mt. Diablo Unified School District
Foster Youth Services
Homeless Outreach Program for Education (HOPE)
District Positive Behavior Team
2730 Salvio Street, Concord, CA 94519
(925) 682-8000, Ext. 3054”

More information is at

Please also feel free to forward a link to this blog post to anyone who might be interested in helping.

Wogan told me that many people in the district don’t seem to realize the extent of poverty and hardship that exists in pockets of the community. Yet, each year he is heartened by the outpouring of generosity from those who do.

Here’s a clip of Wogan telling the Parent Advisory Council about the program, during a discussion about bullying: Sometimes, he said, students act out because they are hungry or are dealing with other troubling issues in their lives outside the classroom.

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