The following is a true story written and shared by a young woman whose bravery knows no bounds. As you read Sandra’s story, remind yourself of the immense courage it required to not only live such a life of trauma and adversity, but how much it took to write it all down, accept the words as your truth and then be willing to share that truth with strangers. Thank you, Sandra, for rising above and continuing to reach for your dreams each and every day; for choosing joy and hope when it doesn’t come easy.
Category: Voice of an FCNI Youth
At 12, twins, Kyle and Nick, were very different. Kyle was quick to react—verbally and physically—without much regard for others. While Nick, painfully shy, often let Kyle do all the talking (and reacting) for him. The boys had been placed in Emergency Shelter Care when it was discovered that their parents were unable to provide them with a safe and stable home. In care, both boys displayed the trauma that they experienced through their behaviors--Kyle became more aggressive and Nick withdrew almost completely.
Every year, our Independent Living Program in SLO County holds an Awards Night to honor our hard working youth--acknowledging their efforts to earn degrees or certifications, secure employment, and reach their life goals. We honor young people like Monica, a former foster youth who recently graduated from the Design School of Cosmetology and obtained her state license. At 20 years old, Monica is now employed at a local salon while raising her healthy, happy son. But her story won’t stop here--Monica plans to continue her education at Cuesta College this fall.
Foster Youth who “age-out” of care at 18 or 19 face multiple obstacles, regardless of their intended route to adulthood. Whether they want to go to college, go to a vocational program, or work to meet their own needs, they do so with limited life skills and even more limited resources and support. They also forge their paths alone, without parental safety nets or financial assistance.
Sadly, some kids just get dealt a bad hand in life, through no fault of their own. Clay was one of those kids. He first ended up in foster care when his parents were arrested for using and selling drugs. At the time, Clay’s aunt and uncle stepped forward to give five year old Clay a home. But after many years with the family, Clay’s uncle was arrested for domestic violence and his aunt, severely traumatized, could no longer care for Clay. Now 15, Clay was again placed into foster care for his safety.
Hi, I’m Sandra, a new Youth Partner at Family Care Network. I’m a good fit for the job, because I have been in the foster care system since I was thirteen, and I’ve utilized many of the programs that Family Care Network provides! I have been in Emergency Shelter Care, multiple foster homes, received Wraparound services when I was living with my mom, and also participated in the Transitional Housing Placement Program prior to and after turning eighteen. I also utilized the Independent Living Program throughout many of those years.
This Sunday, FCNI will host our Benefit for Kids, an annual showcasing of the best food and beverages on the Central Coast combined with a silent and live auction. Proceeds earned through the event support the over 1800 children, youth and families we serve annually. This event has become one of our favorites, mostly because we get to partner with so many amazing community members. Outstanding restaurants, wineries, breweries, and an amazing group of donors and esteem guests, all come together to collectively support those we serve in their efforts to overcome trauma and live healthier, more successful lives. It’s a sight to see so many talented and compassionate people spend an afternoon not only celebrating the many benefits of living on the Central Coast, but also working to support a shared purpose of ensuring that everyone in our community has the resources and opportunities necessary to thrive!
Below is a success story written about Carmen*, a foster youth who was placed in our Intensive Therapeutic Foster Care program when she was 15. Her struggles to overcome various obstacles and traumas, exemplify how critical our community’s support is; we serve 1800+ other “Carmens,” and without community-connection, investment and resources, we couldn’t help them reach their goals and flourish.