Buck and Angela Showalter shoot a PSA to raise awareness about foster care; story expected to run Sunday

Buck and Angela Showalter shoot a Kidspeace PSA to raise awareness about foster care. (Joe Soriero, Baltimore Sun / August 9, 2011)

Growing up, Angela Showalter was no stranger to the harsh realities that come with being a foster child.

The wife of Orioles manager Buck Showalter can remember the times when her family would take care of a couple of foster children from time to time either during the summer or on weekends. As a youth in a traditional family, it was difficult for her to see the hardships foster children endure on a day-to-day basis.

"We weren't an actual full-time foster family, but we would pick up kids who were in foster care facilities," Angela Showalter said. "I can remember it very easily. We had a boy and a girl stay with us from time to time. Driving those kids back on Sunday afternoons, it was just so sad. We lived the life of two parents and a home. To think that these kids were going back to basically an institution, it was tough."

Now, Angela Showalter is using those memories to bring attention to KidsPeace, a 129-year-old national charity that helps develop the behavioral and mental health of foster children by providing care, mentoring, life-skills training and support programs. On June 30, Angela and Buck Showalter announced their involvement with KidsPeace, which will include filming a public service announcement and volunteering at a 5K run in October, in hopes of raising awareness for KidsPeace through their association with the Orioles.

"It kind of hit home. You grow up and kind of forget about it, but you revisit it and it brings back those emotions," Angela Showalter said. "Anytime you can get involved, especially because we're in the public light and the Orioles are a big organization in a great baseball town, it helps with awareness. Maybe it will get some people to say, 'Hey, I would like to do that and get involved.'"

The Showalters have two children of their own — Allie, 24, and Nathan, 19 — and the experience of raising a family also helped make KidsPeace an easy choice for the couple.

"It's something that's close to both of our hearts," Buck Showalter said. "When you have children and you raise them and you see the challenges they go through and see how lucky you were, it's just humbling to think we can help others that aren't as fortunate at some point. When it's all said and done, it's great to have an impact on other people's lives."

In addition to filming a promotion for KidsPeace that will air on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, the Showalters will co-chair the KidsPeace Annual 5K Race and Fun Walk Oct. 29 in Canton. They will kick off the race, hand out awards and participate in the walk, according to Diane Sancilio, KidsPeace's regional manager in Maryland. Angela Showalter is also serving as a volunteer member of KidsPeace's Board of Associates for Maryland.

According to KidsPeace, there are more than 4,000 children in foster care in Baltimore. Of those, only 46 percent graduate from high school, 40 to 50 percent are homeless within 18 months and 25 percent are arrested within 24 months, according to the organization.

Sancilio hopes the Showalters' involvement will spur fellow Baltimoreans to provide assistance.

"Our biggest hope is that more and more people are going to become aware of foster care, the issues around foster care and what happens to kids if they don't get the help and support that they need," Sancilio said. "The statistics of kids who age out [at 21] are staggering. We're hoping with this message that people will get more involved."

Said Buck Showalter: "I just want to help make an impact anywhere I can. … To bring the focus on it and bring some light to it so other people learn about it is always a good thing. It's an honor to know that your involvement has the potential to help and make a difference."

KidsPeace, which serves children between 3 to 21, is based in Pennsylvania and has offices in Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

To learn more about KidsPeace or to donate, go to kidspeace.org.

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