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Outstanding Achiever - Holly Stanley

A FAM Success Story

Article by GJ Lifestyle Staff

Photography by Foster Alumni Mentors Staff

Originally published in Grand Junction Lifestyle

Foster Alumni Mentors, FAM for short, is a non-profit organization in Grand Junction that offers a variety of supports to clients 16 years and older, who have experienced foster care formally or outside the human services system. Their main goal is to support, empower and provide tools to help “foster alumni” to reach their full potential in a unique person-based way. They help alumni ease into a “normalized” life by providing the skills necessary to become great contributors to the community near and far. FAM helps foster alumni believe in themselves, shows them they are not alone, and that it is possible to follow and achieve their dreams. 

FAM doesn’t stop there. This organization goes above and beyond. They build family.  Here are just a few things they have to offer. 

*Learning how to take care of basic needs (e.g., how to pay rent, shop for groceries, banking, taxes etc.) 

*Professional Development (e.g., how to build a resume, find a job, apply for college, scholarships, leadership and vocational training.) 

*Access to educational resources for financial, physical, relational, and mental health. 

*Monthly FAM time for all alumni to gather, bond and build community. 

Meet Holly Stanley. One of the FAM great success stories! 

Holly was put into foster care in Ohio, at the age of 13. Her teenage years were met with much difficulty. When she was 18 years old, she aged out of the foster care system.  With no roots or family ties, and not having anything to keep her there, the next decade or so was filled with moving all over the country for various reasons. She finally settled on Grand Junction when she decided to start attending CMU. It was in 2019 that she was introduced to Foster Alumni Mentors by a friend of a friend. Holly met with Kim Raff, Executive Director of FAM, and immediately knew she had found a safe place. “I looked across the table and thought to myself, wow, someone who has been in foster care like me, can become an amazing person like this. She was well put together with a family and a business. I loved her positivity and her vibe. I instantly knew this was a place that offered things I had never had before.” As Holly and Kim visited, Kim was listing the many opportunities and supports that FAM offered, but one thing in particular hit her heart. Kim was mentioning FAM pictures, but to Holly FAM and Family were synonymous. Having FAM pictures was the greatest thing she’d ever heard. “I was touched, and became involved with everything that FAM had to offer.” 

First and foremost was her education. She found out that FAM offered scholarships, but were not the ones who decided on the recipient. That was determined by the University program.  

She was honored to be the one chosen for that through CMU, and started her journey in obtaining her degree. The path was not easy. There were times when life presented some hardships, but whenever this happened, she knew she had the support she needed. Whether it was helping in emergencies, helping with food, or helping when financial difficulties arose as she navigated school, an internship and work, they were always there. “FAM has been a rock and support in my life. They are people who have been in the same situation and understand. They are positive and relate to people. They are my friends and family. They have been instrumental in my life. It’s moving to have something like this in my life after not ever experiencing ‘a real family life’ before. I have always craved a connection and I finally have that with FAM. Their support network is unmatched.” 

Holly graduated Summa Cum Laude in December 2023 with her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and Technology. She was recognized as “Student of her Class” during graduation. She is currently District Manager at Mesa Conservation District. Holly is still, and will always be, part of the FAM family. She volunteers as much as she can.  

If you have experienced or aged out of the foster care system, or know someone who has, and need(s) support. Please reach out to Foster Alumni Mentors (FAM). They will bring you into their “FAM” family and give you the tools and support you need to succeed. 

FAM has been a rock in my life. They understand.

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