Women on a MISSION

Women on a Mission Interview with Cher Ofstedahl

WE Magazine for Women – Woman on a Mission Interview with  Comedienne Cher Ofstedahl, COO of Trinity Youth Services, a Foster Care and Adoptions Agency located throughout Southern California and Texas.

To the public and those who know her, Cher is the picture of success. She is a revered stand-up comic and multi-talented business leader who is a long-standing champion for disadvantaged children. Her beloved agency,
Trinity Youth Services, is a recognized foster care and adoptions agency throughout Southern California and Houston, Texas.

Even with all of her outward success, Cher’s journey to self-love and empowerment was a long one.

Her mother was an addict who allowed years of sexual abuse to take place. In fact, abuse became a way of life during her childhood. The cruelty she experienced contributed to her passion for saving abused youth.
Since Trinity’s inception, over 65,000 youth have been saved. We are committed to saving even more youth so that they will have the opportunity to have a nurturing family. Having a supportive family is what ultimately saved Cher’s life.

The turning point came when her drama teacher and his wife adopted her, and took her into their home. The experience taught Cher that it takes only one caring adult to change a child’s life. She was finally able to experience unconditional love, and felt special for the first time in her life. Cher now takes the love she was given and shares it with thousands of abused children who have lost hope.

Here’s her interview:

Q. What do you enjoy most about your profession and why did you choose it in the first place? What was the inspiration for your company/project?

A. Quite honestly, the profession chose me. Because of my experiences with childhood abuse and neglect, I believe the Universe threw this opportunity directly in my path at a time when I needed it most.  The thing I enjoy most about my job is the proven positive difference we make in the lives of children. Trinity Youth Services was established more than fifty years ago as a home for “wayward boys.” Today Trinity serves boys and girls, ages 0-21 in foster care, adoption, residential treatment and mental health services placements.

Q. Tell us about any new projects you have in the works.

A. California recently implemented the Continuum of Care Reform Act (AB 403), which significantly changed California’s foster care system, for the better. The reform ensures that children and youth are provided individualized, comprehensive treatment and support for their unique trauma, so their time out-of-home, in foster or congregate care is as short as possible and appropriate. Trinity completed all the requirements under the law; national accreditation, Medi-Cal certification, program statement and plan of operations approvals at both the state and county level.

Q. What is a typical day like for you?

A. I don’t believe there is such a thing! On any given day, I may be problem-solving the unique needs of individual children, looking at how we can do things differently and better for entire groups of youth, or strategizing how the agency might improve our operations to more effectively provide programs and services. I also spend time collaborating with community partners and our governing and contracting entities.

Q. Tell us about your community involvement – what you are passionate about outside of work and home and how/why you participate?

A. I consider myself a “lifelong learner.” I’m a voracious reader and try to keep up on local, national and global issues. I am passionate about the arts; I have a degree in Theater, as well as in Organizational Management and Ethical Leadership. I serve on the board of directors for a nonprofit community arts center and I mentor young women looking to secure leadership positions. Above all, I believe in providing access to opportunity to underserved/underrepresented people: youth, women, LGBTQ and persons of color. We need all hands on deck if we want to make the world a better place.

 Q. What is the biggest risk you ever took professionally and/or the biggest obstacle you have overcome?

A. I would say the biggest risk I ever took professionally, will begin in January, 2020, when I become CEO of Trinity. I’ve been with the agency for more than twenty years, but I still have moments where I feel the gravity of the immense responsibility of caring for hundreds of children on a daily basis. I want nothing more than to do right by all of them. The biggest obstacle I have had to overcome is healing my own inner child, so I am not imposing my own childhood trauma experiences on the work. I’m definitely informed by what I went through, but every child’s experience is unique and I don’t ever want to diminish their experience by seeing it through my eyes.

Q. From where do you draw inspiration? Who have been your role models, mentors, etc.?

A. I’ve been blessed to have a tremendous support system of “chosen family.” I was raised by my school teachers, parented by friend’s parents and given life lessons by supervisors at work. All my life, amazing people have stepped in and stepped up to guard and guide me when my own family did not. Today, my greatest inspiration is my daughter, who is living proof that a child can be raised in absolute, unconditional love and become an adult who embodies that love.

Q. What do you do to keep yourself sharp? What one thing have you done in the past year that has made a significant difference in your life/your business?

A. In December I completed a Master’s Degree in Ethical Leadership from Claremont Lincoln University. I felt strongly that this particular degree would provide me some essential tools for my profession and position.

Q. What one thing would you like to learn this year?

A. I’d love to focus on balance. My new position responsibilities will be understandably consuming, but I don’t want to let my family or community involvement suffer. I’d also like to learn how to sleep better!

Q. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

A. Actively preparing my own successor at Trinity and segueing into an advocacy role in a more political sense. Fighting the same fight for children, but with a bigger, louder voice.

Q. What do you do for fun?

A. Spend time with family and friends. Read, dance, sing, laugh, explore and enjoy new places and experiences.

Q. Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

A. Biology does not necessarily create “family.” One caring adult can make the difference in a child’s life. If you could be that adult, why wouldn’t you be? More than 400,000 children in foster care are waiting for “Forever Families.” Think about sharing your heart and home with a child who needs you.

Q. What’s the best way for readers to get in contact with you?

The best way is to go to our website, and submit the contact form, located here: https://trinityys.org/contact/.  They can also send an email to info@trinityys.org. If they prefer to call us, they can do so at (800) 964-9811.

 

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