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Countywide birthday party sparks hope for girls aging out of foster care [Seattle Weekly]

 

By Olivia Sullivan, July 17, 209 for Seattle Weekly

‘EVERY ONE OF THEIR STORIES IS DIFFERENT’  

Celebrate 18! was held by nonprofit Eileen & Callie’s Place on Saturday.

Sitting under a balloon arch surrounded by colorfully wrapped birthday presents, 17-year-old Kathie Nguyen beamed as she explained why this was the first birthday in her lifetime that she actually enjoyed.

Nguyen, along with other girls from the South King County area, received more than just birthday wishes at Celebrate 18! – a countywide party for girls aging out of the foster care system.

Hosted by Eileen & Callie’s Place, a Kent-based nonprofit organization, Celebrate 18! provided makeovers, new outfits, education and job resources, and more to the birthday girls last Saturday.Seattle weekly aging out foster girls

The overall idea is to build up the girls’ confidence and support them in the next stage of life after foster care, said Dr. Natalie Ellington, founder of Eileen & Callie’s Place.

“Every one of their stories is different,” Ellington said. “The only thing that’s the same is they’ve all been impacted by a system that’s been broken for a long time.”Seattle weekly aging out II

Love could be found in all the details of the Celebrate 18! event at the Auburn Event and Community Center. When searching for a new outfit, the birthday girls perused racks of shoes, clothes and jewelry designed to mimic a boutique shopping experience. Clothes were available in a broad range of sizes to accommodate all body types.

On-site representatives and resources included King County library cards, voter registration, information on continuing education and career networking.Seattle weekly aging out shoes

“We wanted every single thing to say ‘we thought about you,’ ” Ellington said.



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