Event: Día de los Muertos
Date: November 4, 2023
Location: Child Advocates Main Office, Milpitas, CA
Population Served: Current Foster Youth & Non-Minor Dependents (NMDs)
On Saturday, Child Advocates held its second annual Día de los Muertos Mini Fest. Over 30 Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Volunteers and foster youth joined in the festivities, and it was truly an event for all ages with children, adolescents and NMDs from five to 19 years in attendance. The Day of the Dead is a time for families to honor their ancestors, coming together at the beginning of November to engage in joyful activities that keep their loved ones’ memories alive.
CASA Specialist and event co-host Apolonia Cortez discussed the importance of this particular event, sharing, “When a foster youth is removed from their home, they’re not always able to be placed with a family that shares the same culture. Since they may not get the opportunity to experience certain traditions, Día de los Muertos Mini Fest allows them to deepen their connection with their culture and process feelings of grief for loved ones who have passed on while in a safe space. It also allows them to share their traditions with their CASA, deepening their bond and understanding of one another.”
Attendees enjoyed a range of cultural dishes such as tamales and pan dulce and explored a wide array of engaging activities. They crafted skeleton magnets, planted marigolds, painted xolos, made papel picado and, after having their faces painted like sugar skulls, some children even took a turn painting a few brave CASAs’ faces. They also had the opportunity to admire Child Advocates’ ofrenda, filled with photos from staff members honoring those they have lost, before making their very own mini-altars.
“A big highlight was that the children were all very interested in the altar,” said Apolonia. “They asked lots of questions about why we had an ofrenda, who the people were in the pictures and the significance of the flowers. It was a great teaching moment and they were eager to learn.”
Throughout the afternoon, staff overheard heartwarming comments from children and CASAs alike, illustrating the value of this event:
“My dad is Mexican and Dominican—it’s fun to learn about my culture.” — Current Foster Youth
“This event is awesome! It’s a great opportunity not only to connect with my youth but also to learn with them and explore new activities and new cultures.” — CASA Volunteer
“The tamales were so good! Ten out of ten recommend!” — Current Foster Youth
“Events like this one help foster youth connect with their heritage and offer a safe space where youth can express themselves. There’s a lot of love and connection.” — CASA Volunteer
A standout moment of the afternoon was a captivating performance by Aztec dancers. CASA Specialist and event co-host Angelina Rodriguez beat a drum as the performers completed an energy-cleansing ritual, then explained the meaning behind their songs and shared the importance of passing down traditions. As of October 2023, 60% of the foster youth Child Advocates served identified as Hispanic, making it essential to provide opportunities for cultural celebration and exploration like Día de los Muertos Mini Fest.
Thank you to Creations by Stina for contributing a vibrant balloon arch to this year’s decor. We look forward to seeing everyone again next year!
If you have any questions or are interested in sponsoring a youth-related event, please contact our development department at email@example.com.