June 6, 2013 was a life changing evening for Elisabet Ortiz. Not only was she recognized for her academic and personal achievements at UCAN’s 14th Annual Youth Leadership Awards Dinner, but she also met UCAN President’s Board member Bob Loveman. Bob and his wife Gail live in Boulder, Colorado, which is the home of the University of Colorado, where Lis is currently majoring in Political Science and Pre-Law. Bob travels between Chicago and Boulder, while Gail permanently resides in Boulder, working as a firefighter for the Boulder Fire Department.
Helping Lis adjust to college and familiarize herself with Boulder provided a wonderful opportunity for Bob and Gail to get to know Lis better. The three have met up frequently to go hiking or eat dinner. Lis shared that, “My first night in Boulder, we all went out for dinner and they really helped me out. The hardest thing about being in college is being away from my friends, so knowing Bob and Gail makes things easier.” She explained that she chose “the University of Colorado because I wanted something far away from Chicago with a different landscape, and Boulder seemed like a good choice. It’s beautiful, and the weather is perfect.”
For Bob and Gail, mentoring is not something new to them. “Gail and I have mentored many University of Colorado students before. This is the first time we are mentoring a youth in the foster care system, but as with previous youth, we don’t give the same kind of advice that parents do. We are objective, well connected, and have been doing this for a long time.”
In addition to helping Lis settle in, Bob also introduced her to the Guardian Scholarship program; after applying, Lis received a $25,000 scholarship. Bob explained that, “the program is for former foster care youth, but surprisingly many do not know about it. I was told that often foster children do not self-identify or reach out to look for resources. The program has a lot of other great advantages as well. For example, Lis recently went to a retreat at the Rocky Mountain YMCA camp where she met other foster youth and went horseback riding. On parent weekends, the program will arrange events for foster children who may not have visitors.”
Bob and Gail have also made sure Lis’s medical expenses are financed through the CU medical program. Without this assistance, Lis would have had to take out a student loan. For the Lovemans, it is second nature to be always available, whether it is helping Lis adjust to college or making sure she has a job when she graduates. Bob’s advice to Lis for her first semester of college is that, “While paying attention to her grades, she should not only familiarize herself with Boulder community resources for self-development, but also get out and experience art, hiking and skiing. Be a kid and see what’s out there.”
Lis said that, “Bob is a really good person, and I know that he has mentored other students. I think that’s cool that there are people that do something for youth. If I need anything I can let him know; there are things he doesn’t have to do, but he wants to do.” This Thanksgiving, Lis will be spending the holiday with the Lovemans.
Thank you Bob and Gail for everything you do for our youth! And congratulations Lis on a great freshman year so far!