Ms. Lailah A. Muwwakkil is the Director and Founder of L’ S O A R the acronym originally stood for Ladies-Striving, Overturning, Achieving, Receiving, Reward because she was originally working with female foster youth via Sacramento County’s Sacramento Assessment Center. When they asked her to also service their young men the acronym L’ S O A R also became known as, Leaders-Striving, Overturning, Achieving, Receiving, Rewarding.
Lailah entered into Sacramento’s foster system when she and her three sisters came to Sacramento from the Bay Area by way of group home placement in 1986. Unfortunately, neither the group home nor their social worker insured that they were provided with the skills and the knowledge needed to function in mainstream society once they emancipated from the system.
Prior to Lailah’s emancipation in 1991 her group home was closed for fund misappropriation. From high school, Lailah entered into Sacramento State University. Her stay there was very short lived due to the fact she did not have the financial means to afford to remain a college student at CSUS nor did she know how to acquire the needed funds and or resources to be successful at Sacramento State. Knowing deep within that she did not want to become a statistical failure as a former foster youth, she enrolled years later at Cosumnes River College where she is currently working on her AA degree in Business Administration. Upon completion of her degree, she will transfer to Sacramento State.
Aside from being a college student, single parent, and a full-time employee with the State of California, she is also working with foster youth on a once a month basis by way of the Sacramento Assessment Center. She holds empowerment sessions with their foster youth and in her sessions, she teaches them life skills and helps with their overall development that way they can achieve their goals upon emancipation. Although she was the only person initially volunteering via her program L’ S O A R her efforts have inspired others including myself to help with the development of Sacramento’s underserved youth, which also includes foster youth.
Lailah brings in public speakers. She helps the youth to be mindful of those in worse situations than themselves and as a result, Lailah will be delivering letters to Shriners Hospital and UC Davis to help inspire their hospitalized youth. This letter-writing project will start in March of 2009. The youth will work on designing the letter and she will make the copies and delivery them monthly to Shriners and UC Davis for them to delivery to those youth who are hospitalized.
At the end of each monthly empowerment sessions, she distributes resource material to the youth and they are each given an L’ S O AR Contractual Success Agreement. This agreement is designed to help the youth to see they are establishing a contract with themselves for their own personal growth and development. This is a very conventional and out of the box thinking approach that is designed to help the youth to see that they are in total control of their destiny.
Lailah is in the process of transforming L’ S O A R into a non-profit. Outside of L’ S O R A she is also very involved in community service on her job and in the community.
Tedra Henry accompanied her to the December 2008 session titled, "Pamper Me Beautiful and Handsome for the Holiday ’s. Lailah provided the youth with a full Holiday meal. Her pervious business professor, Mr. Lindsey Humphrey contributed a financial donation to cover gifts for the youth. The youth were very happy to see that much time and effort was put into acknowledging them during the Holiday Season. Lailah stated to them that being a former foster youth, she herself knows how it feels like not to be with family during the holiday times and she wanted to lift up their spirits. I enjoyed being able to help her by serving the meal and distributing the gifts. She also provided the Assessment Center staff with certificates of appreciation to acknowledge the time they too allocate to the foster youth on a monthly basis.
She is working on trying to put on a, Foster Youth Ball; this event will be one of the avenues used to honor high school graduating foster youth throughout Sacramento. The Foster Youth Ball will be the first of its kind if she is successful in pulling it off. She is trying to find a location to allow L’ S O A R to host the ball free of charge in Sacramento.
L’ S O A R’s efforts are truly deserving of recognition. Lailah has passion for underserved youth and foster youth, having walked down that path herself. She believes and knows that everyone can achieve greatness. She does not allow her past hurt, pain, abuse, and the like, to hinder her from being a higher achiever. She is more concerned about others than herself. She is truly shinning a light of hope in the direction of those whom she comes across who are in need of a, Pick Me Up. She has met with various legislative persons in an effort to keep the needs of foster youth on the forefront of the minds of the powers that be within Sacramento.
The Assessment Center is not compensating Lailah or the volunteers who work with her everyone via L’ S O A R currently volunteers their time free of charge. Lailah by way of her L’ S O A R program, is helping to reduce the youth recidivism rate while at the same time helping to reduce the number of entries into the foster system for generations to come.