When sharing why I have been so invested and involved in Miracle Miles for Kids every year for the past twelve years, I have to go back to why I worked at Family Care Network for a season.
Category: Voice of a Community Partner
Volunteers are an essential element of FCNI. So much so, that we have an entire department dedicated to working with the 500+ volunteers who work with us each year--some as mentors or tutors, and others who work on our fundraising events or help with administrative tasks. Our volunteers dedicate over 3,000 hours every year to our mission--that’s a lot of time, energy and compassion in motion!
We love our creative community! As most of us know, the Central Coast seems to be a breeding ground for innovative people of all types to create a variety of local businesses which make living here even more wonderful than it already is. We have amazing local restaurants, wineries, breweries, distilleries, jewelers, painters, sculptures, bakers, screenprinters, farmers, graphic designers, landscapers, photographers, film makers, musicians...this list could really go on and on for pages.
January is National Mentor Month, and in honor of these amazing volunteers, we will be sharing some amazing personal mentor stories. Right now, over 20 kids throughout our programs are matched with a mentor--someone with whom they are building trust, developing their social skills and making special memories with. Our mentors often become a vital part of a child and family’s support team--providing comfort, advocacy and encouragement to them, helping them to heal and reach their goals while in care.
Smiles, tears, and cheers filled the air at Nick and Jessica's vow renewal. A collection of San Luis Obispo Wedding Vendors came to together to create for the couple their dream day. Oyster Ridge, a Santa Margarita wedding venue, was the perfect location to renew their vows after 8 years of marriage. Amber from Karson Butler Event's designed the couples rustic barn wedding, while Cameron Ingalls and Roman Howell Films captured the day.
Being located on the Central Coast of California certainly has some great perks. As we all know, we’ve got beautiful beaches, pretty perfect weather, and amazing wine and local cuisine, just to name a few. But by far, our area’s greatest perk is the strong community-spirit that pervades San Luis Obispo County. We here at FCNI see this spirit demonstrated time and time again.
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?” -Martin Luther King Jr.
The quote above, by the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, has always been one of my favorites. I love Dr. King’s words because, at least in my own attempts to explain why I feel it necessary to perform service for others, I seemingly fail to capture the original impulse which has led me to service in the first place. There’s always something missing from my explanation; something just beneath the surface which I can’t quite put into words. This inarticulation presents a strange paradox that I suppose many people other than myself find themselves in, particularly those who enter public service fields. With that said, I’ve found myself reflecting on this quote a lot over the last year. You see, I’ve been working as an AmeriCorps member here at the Family Care Network since September 2016. AmeriCorps is a federal program with the express goal of engaging adults in public service work with aims of "helping others and meeting critical needs in the community." The simplest way to think of AmeriCorps is as the U.S. domestic version of the more well-known Peace Corps program.
I have always loved working with children and I hope that I have some positive impact in their lives. I knew that I had a great volunteer opportunity when I read the Family Care Network’s (FCNI) mentorship request online. It had my name written all over it!
As a tiny introduction to get acquainted, we are Chanda Brown and Samantha Nason of Zest it Up, a locally run event design and catering company. We had the honor of working with all the amazing volunteers at FCNI’s Benefit for Kids this past July. We were left so impressed by the caliber of work being done by Family Care Network and by all the wonderful vendors and attendees who so wholeheartedly came out to support their mission, that we can say we were officially “bit by the bug!” Community is contagious and the strength that comes from it is boundless. This strength is the kind that lifts up those who struggle and knits them more intricately into the fabric of our community. Those without a voice, are given a voice. We found ourselves wanting to dive deeper and call more people out to connect and support FCNI.
Four years ago I was a bit lost. To help me find my footing again, I thought that a mentor or at least someone I could confide in, would be helpful. So I embarked on mentor relationship and it truly changed my life. And over the course of our three year relationship, my Mentor has become a father figure to me and a really close friend. Growing up in the environment that I did—parents struggling with addiction and having been homeless for a period of time—I wish I had had a mentor to help guide me through these difficult circumstances.