Sometimes life deals people a bad hand and foster children are just one of many people to get the short end of the stick. Being moved around from home to home, to different foster parents, and being separated from your siblings and parents isn’t what growing up should feel like for kids but for many this is their reality. Not having a stable home and family support system to go back to at the end of the day has its set of challenges and many children miss out on opportunities in their lives to advance themselves and break free from an upbringing that they didn’t necessarily choose.
But thanks to selfless people like Steve Rios from Florida Reach, former foster child, Racquell ‘Rocky’ Perry, are given the opportunity to make lemonade out of lemons. Florida Reach helps foster children achieve a dream of higher education by mentoring and guiding them to the state programs available such as free tuition and gratuitous monthly living stipends to help them on their journey on becoming the best versions of themselves. Along with Educate Tomorrow, Florida Reach and the many people involved in these great organizations are helping make education attainable for foster children and many other disenfranchised kids in Florida.
Rocky is just one of the many success stories of these programs. She dealt with a lot of adversity growing up but she didn’t want to fall victim to the system and become another statistic. Through a fortunate encounter with Steve Rios, Rocky began a journey in her life that led her to graduating from FAMU and now she is Racquell Perry, J.D. That’s right, an attorney!
Now Rocky has the tools she needs to give back to her community and help the children in the system she grew up in reach their goals. That’s called coming full circle.
It was a pleasure meeting Rocky and Steve and learning about foster children, their struggles, and the dedicated people and programs in place to help them succeed in life.
We hope you enjoy listening,
Alex & Jeanette
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For behind the scenes photos, show notes and more visit www.plantedinmiami.com.
“I had to go to war to find peace.” – Hipolito ‘Beardman’ Arriaga
For many, joining the military is a way of making a better life for themselves and their families. Putting on the uniform and representing this country is an incredibly noble, selfless, and heroic job that comes with its set of challenges and uncertainties. Soldiers return to civilian life changed forever with limited resources or outlets where they can express what they saw and experienced in-country. But for four combat veterans from Miami, the MDC Live Arts’ season-long veterans’ initiative was the impetus for the creation of The Combat Hippies. Led by world renowned theater artist and director Teo Castellanos, The Combat Hippies consist of Hipolito ‘Beardman’ Arriaga, Anthony ‘I.E.D.’ Torres, Allen ‘Tatsel’ Minor, and Andrew ‘Dru Phoenix’ Cuthbert. Backed by a soundtrack courtesy of local DJ Brimstone 127, The Combat Hippies show, “Conscience Under Fire” is heralded as a raw, funny, and honest look at what coming home from war feels like for four young combat veterans as they broach the subject of Post Traumatic Growth, a term coined by psychologists Richard G. Tedeschi and Lawrence G. Calhoun at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in the mid 90’s.
These artists joined forces through the MDC Live Arts’ creative writing workshop for veterans’ in which they shared their experiences in an original spoken word piece, but Teo Castellano saw the immense potential of taking their words from the page to the stage. Perhaps scarier than combat itself, these four wordsmiths summoned up the courage to step on stage for the first time and open their souls to an audience full of strangers to perform together at the Betsy Hotel Lounge. Since then, The Combat Hippies have performed “Conscience Under Fire” multiple times, have become resident artists at the MDC Live Arts, and have been selected as finalists for a possible grant by the Knight Foundation. (We’re rooting for you!)
It was a pleasure meeting these fine thespians at the beginning of their promising careers and we have a feeling they’re in for the long haul. We want to thank Anthony and Hipolito for opening up to us and sharing their story so honestly with us. Welcome to the Planted in Miami family.
We hope you enjoy the show,
Alex & Jeanette
For behind the scenes show notes, photos and more visit www.plantedinmiami.com.
Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @plantedinmiami