"Whether I'm working at Rocky Mountain Youth Corps or impersonating Elvis, I'm happy to use my involvement to help others. My life here is safe, fun and beautiful."
What do the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and an Elvis Presley impersonator have in common? Both activities involve area resident Matthew (Matt) Foster. "I appreciate the work of Rocky Mountain Youth Corps in my capacity of development director, and my impersonations of Elvis are for fun and to help others," said Foster during a recent interview.
For the past two years, Foster has performed various duties for RMYC: writing grants, managing fundraisers, working on donor relations, evaluating programs, marketing and messaging. Between the Taos and Albuquerque offices, the youth corps annually graduate 180 to 190 student participants during three-season phases.
Education and experience
Foster's education and experience prepared him for his current work. He completed a Bachelor of Science degree in economics at Northern Arizona University. In Albuquerque, Foster earned a master's in Community and Regional Planning at the University of New Mexico. For several years, Foster worked for Sandia Pueblo as an economic development planner and a private consultant. In an effort to study the Spanish language, Foster lived in Guatemala for six months. "The Spanish spoken in Guatemala is sometimes like the one spoken here, but once in a while, there are a few differences," he said.
For two years, Foster served as the executive director of the Taos Pueblo Affordable Housing Program. Then, he accepted the position as the long-range planner for the town of Taos, where he worked for eight years. Foster completed another stint at Taos Pueblo Housing for two years. Next, he worked for the village of Taos Ski Valley as the director of community development for a year and a half. Two years ago, he accepted his current position with Rocky Mountain Youth Corps.
Foster acknowledged that, despite his career positions, fatherhood is his favorite job. His son, Hawk Foster, 13, actively follows his Taos Pueblo culture and attends Roots and Wings Community School. "Hawk was born and raised in Taos, plays hockey, snowboards and hangs out with friends," said Foster.
The number 13 resonates with Foster as a lucky number. He views the idea not only with his son's age, but also because of his birth family's size - 13 children - of which Matthew is the youngest. His father, the late Herbert Foster, passed away from Alzheimer's 12 years ago.
"At the right time, I want to change my name in honor of my father," related Foster.
Foster's mother, Mary Foster, 93, resides in the house where she raised her children in Phoenix. Her daughter Tina cares for her.
His siblings, include: Evelyn Sodaro; Janice Shanks; Patricia Buckley; Cindy Riley; and Kathy Schaefer. Matthew credits his brother Bill Foster as the basis for Jerry Presley, Elvis' cousin and the object of impersonation. Other siblings include: Tina Foster; the late Peter Foster who passed away in 2004; and Paula Shilling.
Three more siblings complete the family group. Beverly Cox; the late David Foster, who died in 1981; and Liz Foster Johnson. The family includes many dozens of nieces and nephews, some of whom are already grandparents.
Foster has sought numerous ways to help his adopted community.
Elvis Presley is alive and well in Taos, according to Foster. "I have fun impersonating Elvis. I use this activity at community events such as the Glam Trash Fashion Show and Taos Plaza Live. At the town of Taos Halloween party, I portray 'Dead Elvis'; I use my act at various fundraisers," he said.
Foster also advocates for trails and bike lanes in the Taos area. "I support bike safety for bicycles and pedestrians," Foster said. "Cyclists must follow the rules of the road and learn when to ride a bike for safety reasons (weather-related, especially)."
Foster is a founding member of the Taos Food Co-op, serving as a past board member and a volunteer.
Foster likes to snorkel, soak in the hot springs around town and travel. Past trips include Europe twice to attend World Cup soccer, Central America several times and Hawaii. He rides his bike around town and hikes whenever possible. Foster considers the Rift Valley trail as his favorite.
"I like the sunsets of Taos. I dance to electronic music outdoors and read books to my son. We recently completed reading 'Bless Me, Ultima.' Whenever there's a chance to read a book and then share the movie, we do. Soon, we'll see the movie about Ultima. I like to cook and eat - soups and all kinds of tacos, the best food ever," Foster said.
He added, "I love going to a Native American sweat lodge ceremony."
Foster studies acting at Metta Theatre, recognizing his long-term goal of becoming an actor. As an extension to his dramatic interests, he works on the screenplay "Good Things Are Coming," about one of the runners of the 1680 Revolt.
"I'd like to travel more and relearn Spanish," discussed Foster. He plans to travel with his son to Thailand, Mexico and national parks and monuments.
Rocky Mountain Youth Corps operates with trainees during three different seasons. The corps currently takes online applications until positions are filled. Check the website youthcorps.org for information.
"I enjoy being a part of transitions and transformative experiences for youth and young adults. I'm happy to be a part of conservation of natural resources. Whether I'm working at Rocky Mountain Youth Corps or impersonating Elvis, I'm happy to use my involvement to help others. My life here is safe, fun and beautiful," concluded Foster.
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