Mother adopted as a child helping foster kids through Arizona nonprofit

Amber Illescas was adopted as a child and is now the executive director and founder of nonprofit E3 AZ.
Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 4:56 PM MST
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GLENDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- From being a foster kid to running a nonprofit that helps them, it’s a mission one Valley woman has taken on this holiday season. Amber Illescas knows firsthand how hard it is this time of year for kids in state care. She knows because she was once a foster kid.

Illescas is now the executive director and founder of E3 AZ, a foundation to encourage, equip and empower Arizona’s youth in the foster system and support families who help them. Illescas started Operation PosiPaws and has a table with a bin set up at Blue Corn Cafe and Bakery in Downtown Glendale. People are asked to donate stuffed animals and leave a positive message for the children. “A lot of kids who we serve don’t hear those positive messages,” said Illescas. “We had a kid who was afraid of the dark, and his parents shared with us because of the stuffed animal, he was no longer afraid.”

Illescas has been doing this for four years and recently received recognition from congresswoman Debbie Lesko’s office. “It means so much. I don’t want to cry but it means so much knowing that we can give back,” she said. “When we look back at 1,400 lives we’ve impacted over the last four years, that’s something to say, and it wouldn’t have been possible without our team, without our volunteers, without our donors.”

What also means so much is continuing what molded her into the woman she is today, from being an adopted child to now an adoptive mother welcoming two children into her family. “It’s that appreciation for God. If it wasn’t for the people I had in my life, who knows where I would have been. We already knew we were going to do the same thing,” said Illescas.

If you would like to contribute to Operation PosiPaws, head to Blue Corn Cafe and Bakery during their store hours in Downtown Glendale. You can also help by clicking here.