Hope for Children Fund Nurtures Desta’s Passion

Desta plays a song on his guitar

Even if you are in Desta’s company for only a few minutes, that’s enough time for you to figure out he is passionate about music. If the large earphones around his neck don’t give it away, either his enthusiastic chatter about songs or his stunning tenor voice certainly will.

Earlier this year Desta’s passion and talent helped pave the way for him to get his own electric acoustic guitar and guitar lessons. Desta’s former Family Services Worker, Sabrina Horne, Children’s Services Worker, Kim Donegan, along with Fernando Saldhana of CCAS’s Hope for Children Fund were the driving forces behind Desta’s nomination for the Ignite the Spark Fund Grant, which paid for both the guitar and the lessons. Desta, Sabrina and Fernando were among the 500 guests at the Ignite the Spark Gala, where they enjoyed an elegant brunch and performances by various musical guests.

The Children’s Aid Foundation through the Ignite the Spark Fund, provides opportunities for children in the community and in the care of CCAS to explore their interests in the areas of arts, culture, sports and recreation. Opportunities like this are very important to youth like Desta. Youth like him who grow up in foster care are more likely to drop-out of school, become teen parents, struggle with substance abuse, mental illness or become involved in the criminal justice system. According to Sabrina, giving Desta a guitar and lessons meant increasing his self-esteem, teaching him discipline, and providing him with mentorship. “It’s something for him to get lost in. He has friends, but when they are not there late at night, his guitar is,” agrees Kim. “Music is the only thing that is constant in Desta’s life. Nothing else is secure, but to him, music is stable. He will always have his talent and it is his constant.”

Desta moved to Canada from Jamaica when he was four years-old. His parents had already been living in Canada for a few years. When Desta was eight CCAS became involved in his life and have been ever since. Now an 18 year old, crown ward, Desta is busy finishing high school and transitioning to independent living. He was recently approved for an apartment and is quite excited about living on his own.

Recognizing how difficult it is to focus on academics and juggle other burdens of independent living, such as paying rent, buying groceries and household expenses without the support of a family, Hope for Children Fund provides youth like Desta with a bit of a jump-start. Their Emergency Enhancement Grants gives youth and families a helping hand by providing financial relief when they need it most.

“I’m really looking forward to having my own place where I can be myself and work on my music and art,” says Desta.

Desta’s parents have not always been supportive of his passion for music and this was often the cause of much contention. “My mother wanted me to focus more on my academics and Dad also wanted me to have another focus. But my path has already been chosen. I am a musician,” says Desta.

Desta fondly remembers accepting and winning a sing-off challenge at Summer camp one year. “I absolutely creamed my friend in the competition,” he says. “It was fun. At camp I got to meet new people and when it was over everyone knew my name.”

“Kids really benefit from our Summer Camp Program in a number of ways,” says Fernando. “Not only do they enjoy making new friends, but it builds their confidence and teaches them new skills.”

Desta appreciates his worker’s support and the help he has received from Hope for Children Fund. “I love every single one of my workers,” says Desta. “They have always been there for me. They have been very patient with me.”

Not yet sure on which path his musical talents will lead him, Desta remains very optimistic about his future. “My life experience inspires me. I believe if you are dedicated toward something, your dedication will be worth it, no matter what.”

More about Hope for Children Fund:

Hope for Children Fund is focused on supporting children, youth and families in the year-round based on five areas of need identified. Support one of our programs:

Learn more about how you can help, visit: www.hopeforchildren.ca.