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CSA Finalist: Cindy Fink

Fort Smith woman helps former foster care teens transition to adulthood.
FORT SMITH, AR - Imagine moving from foster home to foster home, only to graduate high school without ever finding that forever family.

A Northwest Arkansas volunteer is making sure these teens have a hand to hold and a shoulder to lean on.

In Cindy Fink's world, there are good days, bad days, and then there are God days.

"That means when you have planned your day and then God interrupts it with someone who needs help," says Fink.

A year and a half ago, that someone happened to be 21-year-old Evelyn Lopez.

"I have been in the foster care system since 2007," says Lopez. "After I graduated from high school, I transitioned to an apartment."

"Any 18 year old is not equipped, even if they were not in the foster care system, to go out in the real world and try to manage their life without any type of encouragement, assistance, or a mentor," says Fink.

Their relationship began when the River Valley Adoption Coalition started looking for volunteers to mentor youth who were again out of foster care.

As a licensed social worker and former call home study volunteer, Cindy was first to step forward and serve.

"Right away, I could see that she was energetic and open and cared about the youth in our community," says Building Bridges Coordinator Nancy Brisher.   

"We had a meeting and I met Evelyn there," says Fink. "We had never met and I was just committed to helping her in any way."

"I can see that Evelyn became very close with Cindy," says Brisher. "Immediately, there was a bond there."

Cindy helped Evelyn move into an apartment, provided transportation and taught her to budget and balance a check book.

"She is really awesome," says Lopez. "She is kind of like a mom to me."

"Mainly it is just being a friend," says Fink. "Hopefully she began to feel like she could trust some adults."

And, as she did with her own two sons, Cindy hopes to help these teens transition into adulthood and make it on their own, but will always be available for those unexpected God days.

"Then you know that you are in the right place at the right time helping the right person," says Fink.

If you would like to nominate someone for a Community Service Award, click here to find our online forms.
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