In 2016, Erica Bachelor attended a symposium in Frankfort and learned that children entering the foster care system were being given a trash bag to transport their belongings. She was shocked and saddened. But she knew how to help.
Erica had recently lost her brother in an automobile accident, and her family commemorated his name by forming the Brendon P. Bachelor Foundation. At first, the foundation focused on sports and education, “two things my brother was passionate about,” she says. “My brother was truly a special man. He loved people and loved children.”
She knew that Brendon would have jumped at the chance to help foster children in the Louisville area. As president of the Bren- don P. Bachelor Foundation, and vice president of marketing for Bachelor Companies, Erica and the board of directors quickly initiated a new program: Brendon’s Duffels of Hope.
“A Brendon’s Duffel of Hope provides each child with a sense of security and hope, while providing necessities such as toys, toiletries, and clothing,” says Erica.
These durable new duffels replace those disposable trash bags for foster children to carry their belongings. Thanks to donations and the help of the community, the Duffels of Hope come supplied with shampoo, socks, and other age-appropriate items of care. “The child will be given something of his or her very own, which gives them a sense of ownership, love, and security while helping to support the community agencies caring for them,” says Erica.
The Brendon P. Bachelor Foundation distributes the duffels through a partnership with Home of the Innocents and its programs. The staff members and volunteers at Home of the Innocents provide Duffels of Hope to kids who are discharged from its residential treatment program and are going to a new foster family placement, as well as to homeless young adults entering the aftercare program for independent living and transitional services, and to refugees who are patients at Open Arms Children’s Health, the comprehensive pediatric medical center at Home of the Innocents.
“Programs such as Brendon’s Duffels of Hope are so important because they uplift the youth in our community,” says Erica. “As cliché as it sounds, the youth are our future. We need to make sure we give them all the necessary tools needed for success. Those tools not only include physical items, but also emotional as well. Instilling a sense of confidence and belonging goes a long way in a child’s life.”
A graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, Erica has worked in television as a co-anchor with Back 9 Network and E! News online, and has appeared in national commercials, TV shows, and as an actor/producer in several films. She currently resides in Miami and has a home in Louisville that she frequently visits while maintaining constant connections to her Louisville roots and her brother’s memory.
“His funeral had so many people from all walks of life attend,” she says. “I remember people coming up to me telling me stories about how he changed their lives. He was always involved in the community, and believed that children needed to be seen, heard, and nurtured.”