A Philanthropic Manhattan Beach Teen Zeros In on the Essentials

Kindness is key.

  • Category
  • Written by
    Darren Elms
  • Photographed by
    Lauren Pressey

Kaitlyn Sciarrino first came up with the idea for Kindheartedly three years ago when she started volunteering at Maryvale orphanage in Rosemead with her mom, Christine. Maryvale offers a temporary placement for girls who are victims of prior abuse, abandonment or neglect and suffer from the effects of numerous failed placements in foster care facilities. In eighth grade she launched a fundraiser and raised more than $10,000 in donations for the girls of Maryvale.

“I was eager to find a way to continue fundraising for Maryvale and jumped at the opportunity to join a yearlong entrepreneurship class,” says the Manhattan Beach teenager. “Through the course of the college-level business class, I learned about everything I would need to launch Kindheartedly.”

A nonprofit organization and fashion blog, Kindheartedly seeks to empower girls from the outside in. They provide girls entering the foster care system with a Kind Kit containing a new outfit, basic fashion and grooming essentials, and inspiring items to help ease their transition and boost their self-esteem. “Our vision is to empower girls to be the best representation of themselves,” shares Kaitlyn.

Now 17 and a student at Mira Costa, Kaitlyn says the response to her nonprofit has been heartwarming and eye-opening. “I was raised to respect, question and support anything and anyone that I am passionate about,” she says. “I am unable to fathom how our society expects children who have experienced significant trauma to function as fully independent and successful members of society with little to no resources or support available to them. To me, this is an example of the failure of the social justice system.”

On the cusp of turning 18, she laments the abrupt end of resources and support available to foster youth past that age milestone. She is currently crafting a research project about the extended foster care policy and its implications, something that will be published at the end of the year.

“I think that kindness is about giving without expecting anything in return,” she adds. “This is one of my favorite quotes from Bob Kerry, and I think it answers the question perfectly: ‘Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly and most underrated agent of human change.’”