2015 Donor Newsletter V.1
Pictured (L-R): Jacqueline Woods and Hawaii News Now Sport Anchor Francesca Weems.
Francesca Weems formerly was a TV sports anchor. She knows the importance of teams. It was a CFS team that helped to change her life from being homeless as a child to having a loving foster mother and supportive family to help her become one of only 2.5% of foster children who graduate from college.
Francesca is a graduate of Kealakehe High School; she then earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, while competing on their track and field team. She recently returned to her high school to be the commencement speaker, at the same ceremony where her foster sister would be this year’s valedictorian.
Jacqueline Woods is rightly a proud mother. After bouncing around the foster care system as a youth, Francesca met Jacque at a CFS respite shelter on Hawai`i Island. At the time, Jacque was working with now-retired CFS Big Island director Heidi Koop to provide services for foster parents and children. As one of the few African-Americans working in the social services field statewide, she was asked to help as a liaison for African-American children, including Francesca and her brother Marcus and foster parents.
But soon Jacque would become “mom” to Francesca.
“My mom always treated me as she did her biological children. I was not her foster child, I was her daughter like her other daughters,” Francesca said. “As a child who had been from place to place, I would test her to see if she would abandon me. One day she sat me down and said, ‘Fran, you can act up all you want, but I’m not leaving you, so get used to it’. It changed my life.”
In addition to her current career at Communications Pacific, Francesca plans to give back to help our community be more involved in supporting foster children and perhaps serving as foster parents, “especially for young kids like me, who no one wants; I was about to fall through the cracks until my mom took me home,” she said.
Jacque notes that it is the support of the CFS team on Hawai`i Island that helped to ensure Francesca’s success. “CFS has been a tremendous source of support for me as well as for Francesca,” Jacque said. “You know you’re not alone and that you’ll have someone you can call at midnight and rely upon for advice and guidance, no matter what the situation.”