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Encinitas resident chairing event for young adults in foster care

Encinitas resident Jaye Connolly-LaBelle’s passion for helping those in foster care runs deep.

For nine years, the Encinitas resident has been on the board of directors of Walden Family services, a nonprofit that supports foster children, teens and young adults. She’s also chairing Thirty-Nine & D’Vine, a fundraiser for the organization at 6 p.m. Oct. 5 at Pamplemousse Grille in Solana Beach.

Encinitas resident Jaye Connolly-LaBelle and Jeffrey Strauss.
Encinitas resident Jaye Connolly-LaBelle and Jeffrey Strauss.
( / Courtesy photo)

“Too often, these kids end up in jail or on another unfortunate path,” Connolly-LaBelle said. “We want to break that cycle.”

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This particular event will raise money for services for young adults, 18 to 21 years old, who have chosen to stay in extended foster care.

“We provide transitional housing, we support their college educations, we help with job readiness, all so they can be productive people in society,” Connolly-LaBelle said. She added that studies show — and she’s seen firsthand — that this is a critical time in their lives.

Connolly-LaBelle said many kids are simply born into a tough situation, one reason for her strong desire to help others. Another is her belief that: “You’re only here once; try and make a difference.”

“My thing is, every kid should have a happy family and shot at happiness,” she said.

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Her philosophy of making a difference extends to her career. Connolly-LaBelle is the president and chief operating officer of RippleNami, online software that allows humanitarian groups and other customers to track and visualize natural disasters, logistics issues and more.

Connolly-LaBelle said many using the platform are working in underdeveloped regions and need access to reliable information that’s easily retrievable.

When not working, Walden Family Services is her focus. And she pointed out that the region faces significant foster-care needs. There are 402,000 children in foster care in the U.S., and almost 60,000, or about 15 percent, are in Southern California. That’s why Walden Family Services has placed a greater emphasis on fundraisers and events, she said.

“We want the community to get involved,” Connolly-LaBelle said.

Thirty-Nine & D’Vine will feature a special presentation from Melinda Avila, a former foster youth and now Walden employee, about her personal journey and lessons learned.

Several options are available to attend the event. Individual tickets are $300.

Table sponsorships will enjoy reserved seating, upgraded wine pairings and special recognition. They run $10,000 with seating for 10 and $5,000 with seating for four, and $2,500 VIP tickets with seating for two. In addition, all table sponsors and VIPs will take home a box of handmade Le Petit Mousse Chocolates.

For information about Walden Family Services and to sponsor or reserve tickets for Thirty-Nine & D’Vine, visit https://www.waldenfamily.org/thirty-nine-at-pamplemouse-grille or call 619-727-5887.

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