Bridges to Health provides services to youth with special needs in foster care so they can remain in the community. Jessica Fama relates the following story about Anthony, a young client who was able to take the trip of a lifetime through the unwavering efforts of Jessica and other JCCA staff.

“Anthony, 16, has been with our program since it started in 2008. He has no relationship with his birth parents and has bounced around between many foster homes. Recently, Anthony lived with a foster family for a little more than a year, but the foster mother requested that Anthony be placed in a respite home until they could decide if this was going to be a good fit. Anthony bonded quickly with Ms. C, the respite foster mother, and her family, so he requested to stay in her care, which was granted. Happily, the respite home has turned into his permanent placement.

Before Anthony moved in with them, Ms. C had planned a trip to Disney World with her family and another foster child (also a B2H client) already in her care. She had paid for everyone to go, but did not have the funds to add another person to the trip. The HCI on the case, Antoinette Brunache, told me about Ms. C’s dilemma and said she was trying to get the funds from the Case Planning team for Anthony to go on the trip. None of us wanted Anthony to feel left out. Suddenly I had an idea! My sister works as a producer for “Good Morning, America,” a TV show on ABC which happens to be owned by Disney. About twice a year, my sister gets Day Passes to Disney World which she never uses. I reached out to her and, sure enough, she had FIVE Day Passes that she was able to donate to Anthony. We were so excited!

However, we still needed funding for Anthony’s travel and accommodations. After a suspenseful two weeks, we learned that the family court judge approved funds for Anthony to go on the Florida trip! Finally, it was official—Anthony and his foster family were able to travel to Disney World during their spring break in April.

We were so excited for Anthony—he had never been outside of New York City his whole life! We knew this would be the memory of a lifetime for him and a great way to bond with his new family. And that’s exactly what happened—everyone had a wonderful time at Disney World and Anthony truly feels part of a warm, nurturing family now.

As Anthony told us, ‘I was so excited to be at Disney World with my new family. It was really great—the trip of a lifetime!’”

This story was written by Jessica Fama, Health Care Integrator Supervisor, Bridges to Health.