There have been times in my life when I didn’t have toilet paper. I usually had a roof over my head (even if it was a carroof), but we didn’t always have finished floors. Did you know that the term “dirt poor” is an Americanism from the 1930s referring to someone living in a house that has a dirt floor? In the United States in the 1990s, I was dirt poor, fleeing from one terrifying temporary non-home to another. Being dirt poor is not just a third world condition, it’s not just a Great Depression Era throw-back, and it doesn’t exclude any race.
Category: Voice of an FCNI Staff
Well, I think it's safe to say a lot of us did not expect to find ourselves here. Asked to stay at home and practice “social distancing”… and really do nothing but that. Maybe we’re getting outside for some fresh air, becoming tele-communication masters, tapping into our creativity, or, for some, starting to connect with parts of ourselves we’ve kept shuttered away for a long time.
At 17, Sabrina’s fears about her future increased each day she got closer to turning 18. As a foster youth, Sabrina didn’t have a family to support her or to live with following her emancipation from foster care at 18. And unfortunately, she couldn’t remain with her current foster parents because her mental health struggles had taken too much of a toil on their relationship.
“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Grief is like an ocean; it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim. -Vicki Harrison
I stood there quietly, my hands covering my eyes. I was smack dab in the middle of a families’ living room, unsure of what would happen next as with this family, interactions had historically become volatile. I was counting to 30 in my head while listening intently for a sign that my intervention may be needed. I heard my 16 year old client attempting to help his adoptive mom find a hiding spot, trying unsuccessfully to whisper as he walked her through various options. Suddenly, and without warning, laughter erupted from across the room.
While sitting in the theater waiting for David Sedaris to take the stage at a recent storytelling event, my friend, who was sitting next to me, was scrolling through her Facebook feed. She tipped the screen towards me to share a precious entry a mom had posted about her five year old daughter’s new playtime activity. Her sweet, adorable girl was pictured “playing office’; with a keyboard, thick books stacked around her, and hair ties available for those heavy moments of concentration.
“We all need someone who inspires us to do better than we know how.”
Why am I so passionate about mentoring?
Being a mentor to anyone is not easy but being a mentor to a child or youth who’ve experienced trauma and/or instability, can be especially difficult. Fulfilling this important role for a child or youth who is healing from various hurts such as neglect, abuse or unmet mental health needs takes a lot of patience, commitment, empathy, good humor, compassion, creativity and, last but not least, time. Is it any wonder that we as a nation dedicate an entire month to celebrate the role of mentoring and those who choose to mentor?
I started working with an 8-year-old Diego* and his family to address some of his more difficult behaviors, including his anger, defiance and aggression towards others. He frequently yelled at his parents and could become physical with the kids at school. When I started working with him in his home, one minute we would be playing basketball and laughing, and then the next minute Diego would be throwing gravel in his sibling’s face after she accidentally bumped into him. As a result, my time with him often felt like I was walking around a minefield.