NOVATO (CBS 5) – Claudia Asprer of Novato started raising foster children when she was newly married and in her 20s. That’s when a 14-year-old runaway asked her to take her in.

“I said, ‘I’m 26 years old, no! I just graduated college, I’m thinking about what I’m going to do with my life,’ and she’s like, ‘Well I think you would be really good,'” Asprer remembered.

That was 1999. Claudia took in that teenage girl, Marjorie Delgadillo, now a college graduate.

“I came in with a bad attitude, bad hair, bad grades,” Delgadillo explained. “I left with a positive attitude and stellar grades, and a family to come back to.”

That was the beginning. Despite working full time for Marin County Health and Human Services, and starting a family of her own, Asprer and her husband have never stopped fostering children in need.

“I came from El Salvador and I didn’t have parents,” Asprer said. “I wanted to teach them what I did and (that) they could do it. Maybe if they have really good support and they have somebody that loves them then they could actually do it.”

And Asprer believes family doesn’t stop when a child turns 18.

“What I noticed is that all these kids were leaving my house, leaving foster care, and then some of them ended up not having a place to live,” Asprer said.

So last year she took the big step of starting a non profit called Movin’ on Up. Just down the street from her home, she’s rented another townhouse for the kids going to college.

“I wanted to give them still the same support they received when they were in foster care but still continue their college education and finish,” she explained.

Eighteen-year-old Kasha Wright works two jobs and is a full-time student. She says she’s grateful for the Movin’ On Up house.

“Here I get lots of motivation,” Wright said. “She really wants to see me succeed. I have a curfew, I have to be home studying all the time. I wouldn’t be doing that by myself.”

Asprer helps with food, savings accounts, doctors appointments, even college scholarships.

“I think what she provides is an abundant amount of endless love,” Delgadillo offered. “And that’s as plainly and simply as I can say it.”

“I have made a difference in their lives, and I feel very privileged to be able to do that in the life of young people,” Asprer added. “This is what I’m here to do.”

So for putting a roof over the heads and ground under the feet of foster children for 15 years, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Claudia Asprer.

Marjorie Delgadillo is currently coordinating support for Movin’ on Up. If you’d like to help, email her:

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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