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The Home for Little Wanderers Honors its Own at Gala
Saugus woman recognized for overcoming challenges in early childhood
BOSTON — On May 28, 2008, The Home for Little Wanderers will honor Sherri Raftery, M. Ed. of Saugus, along with two other alumni of The Home, at their annual Voices & Visions fundraising gala. Each will be recognized for overcoming challenges in their early childhood, and moving on to fulfilling and professional lives, which include giving back to others.
Growing up without a stable loving family isn’t easy. Many children who have been placed in the care of social service agencies lack a positive adult role model and stability in their lives. The Home attempts to fill those gaps, but the children ultimately enter adulthood without the supports that most young people receive from families and community resources. As a result, many never graduate from high school or attend college and can end up jobless, homeless or incarcerated. And for others, like Sherri Raftery, they will overcome those early difficulties and take control of their lives.
Raftery was placed in the Department of Social Services care, as were her three siblings, as a result of their parents’ inability to care for them. "When I began living at The Home for Little Wanderers’ Orchard Home, an adolescent group home in Watertown (that has since merged with another residential care facility), my life started to change. By the time I walked through their doors in 1978, at age 12, I’d already lived in other group and foster homes. If it wasn’t for The Home for Little Wanderers’ commitment to my well-being, I wouldn’t be who I am today. My experience took my life in a new direction. It made me realize that it’s my mission to help others so they won’t have to go through what I did," recalled Raftery, who lived in foster care until age 17.
As a result, Raftery was determined to graduate from high school and "make something of her life." She went on to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Performing Arts and Communications from Emerson College and a Master’s Degree in Education with a concentration in arts and learning from Endicott College. She also attended North Shore Community College to become an alcohol and abuse counselor.
"Sherri is truly an inspiration to all of us," said Joan Wallace-Benjamin, President and CEO of The Home for Little for Little Wanderers. "The annual Voices and Visions gala is
an occasion when we honor the imaginative spirit of all of the children in our care. This year we are glad to have an opportunity to honor that same spirit in adults who graduated from our care and have brought their talents to their professional lives."
At 42, Raftery is a working mother who knows the importance of providing a stable loving home for her daughter, Sabrina. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering as an Educational Surrogate Parent for children who are in the care of the Department of Social Services, assisting with their Individual Educational Program (IEP). Raftery is also a committed volunteer who speaks publicly on behalf The Home for Little Wanderers and Toastmasters International about her personal experiences in the foster care system. Through her work, she has become interested in educating others about The Orphan Train Movement and the history of The Home for Little Wanderers. Raftery is currently writing about her own journey in a book entitled The Little Wanderers’ Home.
About Voices & VisionsVoices & Visions is The Home for Little Wanderers signature fundraising event. The 2007 gala raised $1,000,000 to support our programs. This unique event is the culmination of a year-long arts project throughout our many programs and features art work by some of our youngest children. The theme of the 2008 event, to be held at the Seaport World Trade Center on May 28, is Animals and Their Habitat.