I am one of the lucky ones. I grew up in a home, with two parents who loved me and provided for me. I was safe and secure. This was my “normal” and I assumed everyone else had the same. The first time I realized I was lucky, was when a boy named Anthony moved in with us. I was in the first grade, my brother was in third grade, and now we had another person joining our family, a foster brother, and he was a fifth grader. I had heard the word “foster” before. For as long as I could remember, my grandparents always had three or four foster children living with them at their ranch. This was different though, Anthony was going to be part of our family. My parents explained that he would be staying with us for a short time because his parents weren’t able to care for him. I asked a lot of questions, and my parents were honest with me about what Anthony had been through, toned down of course for a then six year old. At that moment, I learned that I was not only lucky, but I also realized that life is not fair. My parents always taught me that kids deserve a chance to succeed. FCNI helps kids put their lives back together when they are not dealt a fair hand.
With all of the good that FCNI does for children and families, I was compelled to help. While sitting on an FCNI volunteer committee, committee members were going around the table and introducing themselves. The question was simple – tell us your name and how you got involved with FCNI. I introduced myself and then said, “I don’t really remember how I got involved, but my family has always supported FCNI.” Jim Roberts, founder and CEO of FCNI, was sitting next to me and told me that my grandparents were the first foster parents he certified through FCNI. From their service, to my parents who have supported FCNI through fundraising efforts, to my committee work, to my two young daughters helping in the FCNI Kids Helping Kids program, we have four generations of service. My oldest daughter is now the same age I was when I met Anthony. I have begun teaching her that she is one of the lucky ones, but there are kids out there who aren’t as lucky, and they need our help. Even if we can make the difference in only one child’s life, it’s worth it.
This year, my family is being recognized with the Circle of Serving award. We feel incredibly honored to receive this award, acknowledging four generations of service to FCNI. I was recently asked why I enjoy helping Family Care Network and how it makes me feel. I hadn’t reflected much on this before, after all, the purpose of giving is to help others. I simply helped because there was a need. I am a business person, I keep my emotions in check and separate from work. My role with FCNI involves using my business and marketing skills to help raise money and awareness to support the agency’s amazing work. The little bit that I do helps to fund the real work – the case workers who are trying to keep families together or provide a safe environment for a child. When I read the wall of inspiration at Miracle Miles – a wall covered in real life stories from children in the program – my, somewhat tough, business exterior gives way to my sensitive, empathetic mom side. I can’t help but be moved by their stories, and I tear up. These tears are full of sadness and joy – sadness that any child had to experience trauma in the first place, and joy that the services provided by FCNI gives these children a chance to succeed, and the feeling of Joy that I have in knowing that I somehow contributed to this success. St Francis of Assisi said “For it is in giving that we receive.” The true reward in helping others isn’t the recognition, but the feeling you get from being part of the solution. So how does working with FCNI make me feel? I feel very thankful and fulfilled that I get to help make a difference.