Reflect back on your teenage years. What moments stand out as your favorites? When did you finally feel like an adult; when did you get your first taste of independence? Maybe it was your first job, getting your driver’s license, going to prom, getting accepted into college, or maybe it was making your first purchase on your own debit card. These “favorite moments” not only felt empowering and positive, but they also taught you life skills and started to prepare you for adulthood.
Category: Voice of an FCNI Staff
When I first started working at Family Care Network I was so excited but also nervous. Very quickly though, I found myself feeling very “at home” here. As I was given the chance to meet more and more of my co-workers, I started to realize that I had been given a wonderful opportunity. My previous work history was largely in retail, and the career I have now is something I always wanted but never thought I could have.
This week I enjoyed one of my favorite parts of my job: celebrating with my clients. As I walked with Reyna* to get the first ice cream of summer break and she recounted the details of her recent middle school graduation, I was struck yet again by her radiating joy as bright as her yellow sweater. We pointed out every dog we saw, made jokes, shared favorite stories, and she talked about her dreams for the future. Her voice was chipper as she thanked the cashier and as she asked me if we could eat our ice cream in the park.
There have been many times during my time as a Social Worker where my work has prompted me to reflect on my own personal life, my own challenges, my means, and my own life perspectives. I have been given the opportunity to say to myself, “What would I do if I were in this situation?” or “How would I react to this hardship?” or even, “What would my perspective of life be given these certain circumstances?” My work humbles me. It has allowed me space to appreciate, to reflect, to empathize, and it drives me every day to support and assist others to the best of my ability.
“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
I know I don’t act the way you want me to. And I know you don’t understand why. I know you look at me and think I am just oppositional, a pain in the butt. You judge me and wonder what is wrong with me, why can’t I just act “normal”? Believe me when I tell you, I don’t know why I can’t either. I want to act “normal,” I want you to love me and to be the perfect child for you. I want to be happy. But something inside me won’t let me. And it hurts. My thoughts are always racing out of my control. I want to crawl out of my skin. Why am I this way?
This article was originally posted on March, 14, 2017 and has been updated by the author.
There is such joy, excitement, and freedom that comes with moving into your first apartment. It can also be frightening navigating new environments and experiences. These highs and lows are emphasized when working with the “Foster Youth to Independence” Voucher. The Foster Youth to Independence Voucher, or FYI voucher, is a new statewide program that provides housing choice vouchers to former foster youth who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness.
Jensen wasn’t a kid used to getting or giving second chances. He lost his parents when he was young and spent most of his childhood bouncing between extended family members, family friends, and foster homes. He endured physical and emotional abuse from people he was told to trust, so by the time he was in his early teens, he didn’t trust anyone. By then, he’d become a ward of the state and his Social Worker, Lacey, wanted nothing more than to find him a safe and stable home. But Jensen wasn’t interested.
While I know that “It takes a village to raise a child” has become a tired cliche used to promote ideological purposes without ever being appropriately attributed to any specific “village” (to date, no one has figured out where this phrase actually originates from), you’ll have to forgive me when I say that I still really like it. This phrase evokes so many emotions--togetherness, collaboration, acceptance, worthiness, belonging. In current American culture, these feelings are critical, right?