Rayn Boncie was an impressionable 14-year-old when she was placed in foster care, a kind child who noticed when a new girl placed in the same home arrived with welts on her skin because her clothes were so tight. Boncie vowed then and there that someday she would help foster children get the basic necessities they needed.
Fast-forward to 2008, and an adult Boncie began tirelessly working to keep that promise. Grieving the loss of her father for whom she had served as caretaker (“so I was used to not sleeping”), she got to work—without anyone else’s support. “I was struggling through poverty myself,” she says. “I researched how to start nonprofits, how to create a business plan. Everybody, including the pastor of my church, kept saying, ‘Rayn, you’re really nice, but it’s just not going to work.’”
Thankfully for the thousands of children and parents who Boncie—now a single mother of five who’s celebrating 15 years with her nonprofit—has helped across 11 counties, she never gave up. Armed with personal experience and a childhood promise, she started with a modest inventory of donated clothes secured by visiting garage sales. Her organization, Things of My Very Own, has since grown into a cheerful 20,000-square-foot Schenectady facility that offers all kinds of services to keep children with non-abusive family members (who might need major assistance) and out of the foster care system.
“Rebuilding is a tough upward battle, and so many have been abused to the point of almost giving up hope,” Boncie says. “So when they walk through our door, we treat them as though they’re the most important person in the world. And in that moment, they are.”
Join Rayn and the nine other 2023 honorees at our annual Capital Region Gives Back event on December 6 at Putnam Place.