By Ken Williams | Editor
Talmadge woman heads Promises2Kids nonprofit
Tonya Torosian has one of those jobs that brings great joy amid inescapable heartache.
As chief executive officer of the local nonprofit Promises2Kids, Torosian works diligently to help thousands of foster children who have suffered physical and/or sexual abuse or have been severely neglected by their parents or caregivers.
The kids’ stories are heartbreaking, but the agency’s task is as simple as their motto: “Creating a brighter future for foster children.”
For Torosian, the reward for her hard work is hearing back from former foster children who were positively impacted by the agency’s programs.
For her, it’s been a rewarding career in child welfare and nonprofit management that now spans 25 years across three states: California, Arizona and Illinois.
A certified fundraising executive, Torosian received her master’s degree in social work from Arizona State University with an emphasis in planning, administration and community practice.
She began her career as a social worker, then as an executive charged with developing strategic alliances and implementing processes, systems and policies.
Torosian has served on the board of several nonprofits, which included serving as the president of the San Diego chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. She was a finalist for the San Diego Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business Awards, and was recognized with the Women Who Move The City award by San Diego Magazine.
Meanwhile, Torosian and her wife, Karla, have a bundle of joy of their own now living in their home in Talmadge. They have adopted a baby boy named Carter.
Here are five questions with Tonya Torosian:
1. What is Promises2Kids (Promises), and how many children are served annually by the nonprofit?
Promises2Kids is dedicated to creating a brighter future for foster children.
Through no fault of their own, over 3,000 children [in San Diego] live in foster care each year as a result of physical abuse, sexual abuse or severe neglect.
Promises provides supportive programs and services to ensure they heal from the trauma they experienced and have the tools and opportunities to grow into happy and successful adult members of our community.
Our programs are Camp Connect, Guardian Scholars and Foster Funds, and we also give support to children living at the A.B. and Jessie Polinsky Children’s Center, San Diego County’s emergency shelter for abused and neglected children.
2. As the chief executive officer of Promises, what are your topmost duties?
To ensure that the community is aware that there is a communitywide problem of child abuse impacting children of all ages right here in San Diego.
To educate and engage the community in responding to the needs of these children.
To ensure foster children know there are people who love and care for them and that there are resources in place, from Promises2Kids and others, to help them move beyond their trauma to achieve their dreams.
3. With an extensive background in social work and fundraising, what do you consider the greatest accomplishments in your career?
My greatest accomplishments in my career boil down to the individual children I know I have helped … I know what we do as an agency makes a true lifelong impact, but often when I least expect it, a child or youth I may have helped years ago reaches out to me and shares with me that something I did, or the way I treated them, made a true positive difference for them … that is all I need to be proud of my work.
4. Congratulations are in order because you and your wife have adopted a baby boy. How has this changed your lives?
We have been trying to become parents for a long time now, and we looked at adopting through foster care and also through private options.
Ultimately, it took us over two years to finally receive the call that we were waiting for. Our son Carter was born in another state and in one day we became parents.
Working with the difficult realities of child abuse, as a parent I find it is even more challenging to hear the life stories from our youth.
For both my wife Karla and I, our entire focus changed in that moment when we met our son for the first time. We, like all parents, want the best for our son, and we find ourselves reaching out to the community to find family-centered activities and events to give back and to fully engage with other families.
5. What do you like about living in Talmadge?
It is a great community! There are so many family activities and events, from food-truck nights to community parades and celebrations. I feel it is an inclusive community with that quintessential small-town feel in a large city!
A whiskey-tasting fundraiser
Promises2Kids will host its first-ever whiskey tasting event on Thursday, Nov. 30, from 6-9 p.m. at the Moniker Warehouse, located at 705 16th St. in East Village.
Guests will enjoy an evening of whiskey, live entertainment, a spirits and wine auction and more. World-renowned and local distilleries will feature an outstanding selection of fine spirits and share their knowledge with fellow whiskey enthusiasts.
Featured whiskeys will be provided by Basil Hayden, Brenne, Buffalo Trace, Cutwater Spirits, FEW Spirits, Glenfiddich, Knob Creek, Laphroaig, Maker’s 46, Malahat Spirits Co., Monkey Shoulder, Project XX, Stranahan’s, Suntory Whisky Toki, Swinford Spirits, TCCO, The Balvenie, The Exceptional By Sutcliffe & Son, The Macallan and Widow Jane.
Food trucks will also be on-site with a variety of cuisine available.
Tickets cost $150-$200 and can be purchased at promises2kids.org.