When retiree Elissa Garr embarked on her “second” career through the website Encore.org, it was meant to be temporary. A former elementary school teacher, Elissa decided to use her skills, honed over a lifetime of teaching, to help shine a light on the issues affecting children most in need.
Elissa volunteered to be the executive director for First Star, an organization dedicated to addressing child neglect and abuse, the nation’s foster care system, and helping youth succeed in education and life.
Elissa soon became the president of First Star’s Greater Washington Academy, providing skills and education programming to ensure foster youth can succeed at high school, and eventually, college. But her work evolved into more than just a college preparatory program. Even after students embarked on their educational paths, Elissa kept in touch with students, teachers, and parents, helping to answer some of the most pressing issues these students faced.
After years of hard work and dedication to helping foster children in her area, she then turned her attention towards helping her peers. To date, Elissa has helped guide eight seniors through high school and into college. Three of them even received scholarships to four-year universities.
Elissa’s latest endeavor is the launch of First Star Institute, which builds on the organization’s effort to reform the foster system for children in Maryland.