Forty years ago, Rob entered the foster care system as a child who had lost both parents. He was brought into a house of strangers with all of his belongings in a tattered and torn trash bag. Eight years ago, 4 children, who are now his daughter and 3 sons, arrived on his doorstep through foster care. As they entered his home for the very first time, each clutched a garbage bag holding the few items they called their own. Scheer was floored. How, after thirty years, were children in the foster system still carrying their life in a bag used for trash? After searching for a means to provide dignity to kids in care, an idea was born. With the vision of assembling cases for youth in need, an invitation was extended to the community for family and friends to come together. In December 2013, this gathering marked the first Packing Party to assemble what is now lovingly called Comfort Cases, and the 501(c)(3) charitable organization was born.
Comfort Cases has been given exciting exposure with interviews on The Ellen Show, a viral video production viewed by over 100 million from Upworthy, and a segment dedicated to the cause on The Today Show. They have already shipped the Cases to 39 states, and the dream is for every youth to receive Comfort Cases upon entering foster care.
In addition to his work as the Founder of Comfort Cases, Rob has over 25 years of leadership and operations management experience in the mortgage and financial industry. Rob is also a proud veteran of the United States Navy. He lives in Maryland with his husband Reece and their four children.
One of the next chapters in Rob’s life is working to provide higher education and support to children who either have, or are close to “aging out” of the foster care system. Each year nearly 30,000 young adults “age out” nationally without a support system or adequate life and career skills to transition into independent, successful adults. An overwhelming number of these young people experience chronic unemployment, homelessness, have substance use issues or become absorbed into the criminal justice system. A very small percentage of emerging youth earn degrees or complete career training after high school and many do not successfully finish high school. Through speaking his own truths and experiences, and rallying behind groundbreaking school developments, Scheer is truly able to provide a platform to help shed light on, and begin remedying this injustice.
Reece Scheer is the Co-Founder of Comfort Cases, whose mission is to inspire communities to bring dignity and hope to youth in foster care. As a father of four children adopted out of the foster care system, Reece was distressed to see his children arrive on his doorstep with their life's belongings packed in torn and tattered trash bags.
Knowing that all youth deserve to have their basic needs met and to have a few comfort items of their very own, Reece and his husband, Rob founded their charity. Comfort Cases fills backpacks and duffel bags with brand new essential and comfort items for youth to receive as they enter the foster care system. Since 2013, Comfort Cases has distributed 30,000 Cases to youth in foster care in 39 states and the District of Columbia. Reece is currently a stay at home father who is fully committed to teaching his four children to give back and lead by example through their family charity. Reece has a Masters Degree in Interior Design from Corcoran College and aspires to pursue a career in Interior Design in the near future.
“I am honored to join the Comfort Cases team, especially at this critical point in the organization's evolution,” said incoming Executive Director Tony Bonetti. “I’ve had the privilege of working with the Board and hundreds of committed volunteers over the past four years and I am inspired by their passion and commitment. I look forward to working with the entire Comfort Cases family as we work to bring comfort and dignity to those who deserve it most.”
Tony Bonetti has been a social activist and non-profit leader for more than 15 years, serving mission-driven organizations such as Rainbow Families and the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness. Tony holds a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Connecticut and Bachelor’s degrees in Sociology and Public Policy from Eastern Connecticut State University. Tony lives in Kensington, Maryland, with his husband, Matthew, and their daughter, Audrey.
Treasurer, National Board
Ted Blake is the Treasurer of Comfort Cases having joined the Board in 2017. Mr. Blake has been a CFO at a variety of companies over the past 6 years after spending over 20 years in banking. He is currently CFO for the District of Columbia Financing Housing Agency. DCHFA seeks to expand homeownership and rental housing opportunities in DC by issuing mortgage revenue bonds that lower the cost of housing for low and moderate income households.
Mr. Blake is also on the board of Imagine Possibility, LLC (iptutoring.com) which provides individualized academic programs for children with learning differences like dyslexia. Mr. Blake is a CFA and graduated with honors from The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Ted lives in Darnestown with his wife, Patricia, two sons and dog.
Secretary, National Board
Aimee DeBrandt is Chief Operating Officer of Healthy Back Brand Holdings, LLC, a multistate specialty retailer that provides solutions for those with back and neck pain. Aimee oversees all retail operations, supply chain management, logistics and fulfillment, human resources, inventory control, and real estate leasing. Most recently, she has assumed responsibility for online sales of the nationally advertised exclusive X-Chair. She has over a quarter-century of experience in retail management.
From her first job in sales at a Washington-area department store as a teenager, Aimee has worked for recognized retail leaders such as Bloomingdale's and Old Navy, prior to being recruited by Healthy Back Store in 2000. She earned her B.A. at Gettysburg College before studying at The Institute for American Universities in Aix-en-Provence, France, which serves students selected from over 500 U.S. colleges and universities.
Aimee lives with her husband and two children in Kensington, Maryland.
Carlos Lamadrid is the President and Founder of HLC Partners, a consulting firm that provides strategic and tactical advice to a wide variety of companies on brand building, team building and change management. Carlos has worked in the media and marketing industry for over 25 years, much of that time at Condé Nast Media. After many college tours with his children, Carlos was inspired and has returned to school himself, and is in the process of earning a Master in Nonprofit Management at Harvard University.
Married for over 25 years and a father of two college–age children, Carlos has also been a lifelong philanthropist and volunteers. Carlos has volunteered at numerous homeless shelters, and was a “Big” for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America and a tutor for High School Harlem Tutors for almost a decade. He has served on the Board of the University of Oregon, School of Journalism Advancement Council Committee, and Lawrence Hospital Home Care in Bronxville, NY. Most recently he served on the spring Gala committee for CancerCare and is a Board member of GallopNYC that offers therapeutic equine programs to children with disabilities and at-risk youth. Carlos is very committed to helping all children, especially those who often need the most support, those entering the foster care system.
Carlos believes every child is a gift and they all should be cared for and loved.
Mike has an exceptionally diverse background in the business and human services fields, and currently leads one of the top real estate teams in the country. Prior to real estate, Mike was a foster care case manager in Pennsylvania, and a Childcare Specialist with The Children's Home in Catonsville, MD. While real estate was supposed to be a part-time way of putting himself through law school, he quickly saw the potential of making it a full-time career that would enable him to pursue his other goals. Since graduating law school, he has scaled his real estate business to a level that allows him to use his law degree for what matters most to him--as an advocate for vulnerable children in the foster care and special education systems.
Mike passionately reinvests the profits from his business into youth programs and non-profits in the Philadelphia and Baltimore areas. He personally mentors several local youths as they transition from foster care into their adult lives, and continues to work at The Children's Home, both as a direct care staff and also as a fundraiser and donor for the facility's critical programs. The ability to impact this vulnerable population is what drives Mike to achieve at the highest possible level every single day.
Mike lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, Sarah, and their son, Tyreek, and loves to travel and study martial arts in his free time.
Jill Latchana is the education project manager for the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educators Fellowship Program and joined Oak Ridge Associated Universities managing programs for the Department of Energy. She is a graduate of West Virginia University with her B.S. in Animal and Veterinary Science and dual M.A. in Biology and Curriculum and Instruction. She also holds a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Educational Leadership and Administration from Hood College.
Jill’s career in education has spanned over 25 years. During her teaching career she taught in DC Public Schools and Alexandria City Public Schools where she taught middle school life-science and high school Biology. She also has served as a Curriculum Specialist in the STEM department of Montgomery County Public Schools. As a member of the Professional development team at Apple, Jill designed and implemented national STEM education programs and conducted professional development for administrators and teachers. She has also launched educational programming and provided management for programming at Discovery Education, the National Science Teachers Association, and the American Chemical Society.
Jill and her husband Neil have been proud foster parents in Montgomery County for 12 years and live in Derwood, MD with their four children and two dogs.