What impact does If Given A Chance have on the lives of the young people you can help? To answer that, let us cite some examples:



Roseanne faced struggles that included an abusive, violent, drug addicted, criminal father who abused all 6 children and tried to murder her mother.  The family was often times homeless, moved to four different states, and lived below poverty level.  Roseanne attended 13 different schools before high school.  She took responsibility for the care of her younger siblings, while her father abused drugs and her mother worked long hours. 


After her father was sent to prison for attempted murder, Roseanne and her family reached a level of stability and lived in the same place for 4 years while she attended high school.  Roseanne worked her way through high school in order to help her mother pay the bills.  She became an excellent student and valued nothing more than her education.  Roseanne was an If Given A Chance Honoree in 2005.


Before continuing Roseanne’s story, we want to share another story which may explain the kind of difference If Given A Chance can make in the lives of the young people we try to help.


The Starfish Story

A young man is walking along the ocean and sees a beach on which thousands and thousands of starfish have washed ashore. Further along he sees an old man, walking slowly and stooping often, picking up one starfish after another and tossing each one gently into the ocean. 


“Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?,” he asks. 


“Because the sun is up and the tide is going out and if I don’t throw them further in they will die.” 


“But, old man, don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it! You can’t possibly save them all, you can’t even save one-tenth of them. In fact, even if you work all day, your efforts won’t make any difference at all.” 


The old man listened calmly and then bent down to pick up another starfish and threw it into the sea. “It made a difference to that one.”


Roseanne graduated with her BA in December 2009 from UC Berkeley.  She went on to achieve her Masters Degree in Education and Multiple Subject and Single Subject California Teaching Credential at the University of San Francisco in May of 2012.


Here are other stories of Starfish that If Given A Chance made a difference to in the past:


I grew up in a single parent home and dealt with poverty all my life.  Looking for attention wherever I could find it, I began to hang around gang members and started using drugs at a young age.  I found myself increasingly involved in illegal activities that eventually landed me in Juvenile Hall.  After being placed on probation, I realized my lifestyle needed to change.


Thanks to the support of IGAC, I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Sacramento State University and have just graduated from the University of Las Vegas with my Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice.  My ultimate dream is to give back to the community through law enforcement and help other teens who find themselves in the same situations that I experienced.



Throughout the last several years of my education, If Given A Chance has been my “surrogate parent”. I’m not talking about science, I’m talking about education. Surrogate in this text will mean stand-in and parent, for me, is understanding, support, discipline. Well, in an odd way that’s exactly what If Given a Chance is, my “parent”.


When I was 16, I was removed from my mother’s custody and placed in the court system. I hadn’t attended school consistently past eighth grade. So when I got to my group home I was required to take GED classes. I finished about the time I was eighteen. Around the same time the funding from the county stopped and I had to pack my bags and move out. Without a lot of options, or guidance, I did what every other eighteen year old woman would do. I hopped on a freight train and continued to hitchhike throughout the U.S and Canada. (This was not before I had been nominated for the If Given A Chance Award).



As I choose my class schedule for my last semester of UCLA Law School, I can’t help but reflect on all of my experiences over the years and those whom have helped me get to where I am today. The If Given A Chance Award has been providing me with support for the last 8 years, during the most financially challenging years of my life. Being a first-generation college student with a parent that is unable to assist me financially has forced me to do two things: take on part-time jobs, and seek outside funding in order to cover costs that financial aid will not. It is difficult to be at an institution where financial hardships are faced by only a few students and where many are privileged in the sense that the only stresses they face are academic. If Given A Chance has helped lessen my stresses, and I thank both the Board and the many donors for all they have done to assist me over the years.


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