It Takes a Village Feature: Tamesha Brown, L.O.V.E.D Foundation
It takes a village to create change in child welfare. That’s why Arms Wide created It Takes a Village, which aims to improve outcomes for Black children in foster care. Black children make up 47% of children in foster care in Greater Houston but represent only 18% of the overall child population. Our It Takes a Village Advisory Committee is full of community leaders who help us raise awareness of this disproportionality and provide resources for youth in foster care. We’re excited to shine the spotlight on one of our It Takes a Village Advisory Committee members: Tamesha Brown, Director and Founder of the L.O.V.E.D. Foundation.
Journey through Foster Care
Tamesha Brown’s experience growing up in the foster care system shaped her vision for how she wants to change lives of teen girls in foster care today. Today, she holds an MBA and leads her own nonprofit, fueled by the desire to give teens the lifeline she wished she had earlier in life.
Tamesha and her siblings spent a lot of time at their grandmother’s house growing up, while her mother struggled with drug addiction. They were removed from home when she was in the 4th grade, where she subsequently spent time between relatives’ homes and a group home for girls. In the group home, she bonded with other girls and the caregivers; in her relative’s care, she felt anything but safety. Unfortunately, the courts ultimately decided she and her sister should return to her relative’s house, where she experienced abuse. “I felt betrayed by the system because the courts decided it was best to be with family, but this wasn’t family – I felt like a slave in my own home,” Tamesha recalled.
After graduating from high school, she found an escape route by joining the military. However, that meant leaving her younger sister behind in foster care. “Once siblings are split up, they don’t have a lifeline,” Tamesha said. “My sister ran away into the streets. The streets took hold of her and didn’t release her.”
A Vision for All Girls to feel L.O.V.E.D.
Tamesha wishes she and her siblings had a safety net, someone to advocate for them and really understand what they were going through. That’s why she started the L.O.V.E.D. (Learning Our Value Every Day) Foundation: to be that for teen girls in foster care now. “I knew nothing about life, about being a woman or being loved, said Tamesha. “I had to learn about adulting on my own.”
The L.O.V.E.D. Foundation is that safety net: it helps girls learn to love themselves first and foremost. It also helps them build life skills, learn to trust, and prepare for life outside of the system. “It is a place that girls can run to so they don’t have to run to the streets,” said Tamesha. “It’s also about simple things: we show them the right way to apply makeup, do fun things together, and have the girls help plan events.” L.O.V.E.D Foundation recently had their first Back to School Event with free school supplies and giveaways. Tamesha has plans for holiday events, workshops, and a spring scholarship luncheon.
Joining Arms Wide’s Village
After launching the L.O.V.E.D. Foundation in 2021, Tamesha contacted Arms Wide Adoption Services to see how she could help our teens in foster care. She spoke with Ashley Sims, Arms Wide’s Training and Recruitment Supervisor, for over two hours about the needs and opportunities to support Black children in foster care and those in the post adoption program. Having a mentor who experienced the foster care journey herself is an incredible asset to the Village.
“Just because girls turn 18, doesn’t mean they are ready for adulthood, said Tamesha. “L.O.V.E.D. wants to be a bridge from system to adulthood, so they don’t get lost.” We are so excited to have Tamesha and the L.O.V.E.D. Foundation as part of It Takes a Village to provide resources for youth in foster care, adoption, and beyond.