Local Heroes: Ruett and Rhonda Foster

Ruett and Rhonda Foster

"We are all connected...we impact one another in different sections of life. As we are reaching out to them, they realize that we're reaching out in the spirit of love."

Ruett Stephen Foster is a native Californian, born and raised in south Los Angeles. He is a graduate of Pitzer College in Claremont, CA. Pastor Foster has over thirty years of experience serving children, youth, and families in the Los Angeles area through concerted community advocacy. He has worked as a teacher, counselor, and mentor with many diverse groups and individuals in need. The people that Pastor Foster has endeavored to help include foster children and youth offenders while employed at the Institute for Black Parenting; the developmentally disabled at the Harbor and South Los Angeles Regional Centers; and preschool children to teens in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

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Mr. Foster became Senior Pastor of Community Bible Church (CBC) of Culver City in June of 2007. For the past thirteen years, Pastor Foster has served as an ardent public activist for violence prevention. He became an assiduous advocate after the tragic and senseless loss of his innocent seven-year old son, Evan, to gun violence in 1997. Pastor Foster and his wife, Rhonda, have partnered with several different causes in the hopes of eradicating youth violence by instilling empathy and cultivating emotional growth in incarcerated youth.

Pastor Foster continues to serve as an advisory board member for the Office of Restorative Justice of the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which is comprised of a group of individuals committed to empowering people to understand what it means to restore justice systemically. He and his wife have served on the speaker's bureau for Women Against Gun Violence for more than ten years, educating the youth and community members about the impact of gun violence and the necessity of sensible gun control legislation.

Currently, Pastor Foster is very proud of and involved in a partnership between the CBC and the Culver City Police Department, which has culminated in their Youth Diversion Program. The program provides a venue for self-empowerment and life transformation for first-time offenders.

Rhonda Foster also graduated from Pitzer College. She began working as a counselor for emotionally disturbed children in a residential treatment facility. At the same time, she became a post-baccalaureate student in pre-medical school courses. She was a psychology research assistant at Charles R. Drew University Medical School. Mrs. Foster assisted on a study of the level of clinical depression in the South Central Los Angeles Community. She was soon accepted to three different medical schools; however, after experiencing a spiritual awakening, she declined an entrance to medical school in order to develop her own facility for children in crisis.

Around the same time, her path crossed with that of fellow Pitzer alumnus Ruett Foster. They met in 1985 and were married in 1988. Their mutual dedication to charity and community works galvanized their eventual plans for creating a children's facility, which they planned to pursue as soon as their own children were school-aged. Those plans were tragically altered after Evan's death, but Mrs. Foster found solace and strength in continuing her philanthropic in light of Evan's own words. He had once said that, if he were President of the United States, he would "talk to those that cause harm to others and tell them to go to church."

After the loss of Evan, Mr. and Mrs. Foster refocused and executed their plans with an even deeper resolve. They established a facility to provide care and services for any and all children who have perpetrated crimes against society as a result of being separated or estranged from their families. The couple has dedicated their lives to helping these children reconcile not only with their families but also with their communities as a whole.

In addition to her philanthropic work, Mrs. Foster previously worked as the Compliance Coordinator for WESCO Infrastructure Technologies/Colich Construction in Torrance. She also served as Vice Chair of the Contract and Procurement subcommittee of the Los Angeles Minority Business Opportunity Center. In February 2008, Rhonda returned to the service of youth through Community Build, Inc. She is currently the Case Manager for Community Build and the Gang Reduction Youth Development Program of the Los Angeles Mayor's office. She coordinates therapy, tutoring, sports, arts activities and life coaching for over sixty clients between the ages of 10 and 15.

Together, Rhonda and Ruett Foster have been honored by several entities in the last decade. The couple received commendations as "Treasures of Los Angeles" from the Central City Association of Los Angeles in 2003 and 2005. In 2007, they were selected as Pitzer College Distinguished Alumni Finalists, and they received the "Changing Lives" Award from the Heman G. Starks Youth Correctional Facility. The Fosters received a truly unique honor in 2002, when they were selected as Inspirational Torch Bearers for the 2002 Winter Olympics.

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