Minimizing Mountains

Jennifer Rutledge, FCNI Social Worker
April, 27, 2022 -

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.

For foster youth, the hardships and challenges they face come in many different forms, in many different ways, and in many different times during their lives. Life is challenging, but for a child in the foster care system, a simple task may be met with numerous barriers that are not always apparent to others. What may seem like a simple problem to overcome, for a foster youth can be seen more as an unclimbable mountain, with them lacking vital family support and the life skills to know how to even start. The motivation may be there, but the continuous barriers and hurdles they face can be daunting, especially when they have limited to no resources available.

I recently experienced one of these “mountain” situations with a youth I work with that came in the form of a bike accident. This youth had been riding his bicycle to the grocery store one day not far from his house. As he rode along the sidewalk, a car to his left made a sudden turn into a parking lot. Since the bicycle was in the driver’s blind spot, the driver didn’t see the youth on his bike. Swerving to miss the car, the foster youth fell off the bike while the bicycle was smashed by the car. Fortunately, the foster youth sustained no injuries; sadly, the bicycle was not so lucky.

The youth, understandably, was distraught; his bicycle was his primary mode of transportation. With limited funds and resources, the youth felt hopeless to fix this situation, and worried about not having transportation for the foreseeable future. His bike enabled him to engage in one of his primary coping skills, being physically active. And it served as his only means of transportation to get his grocery shopping and errands done. He had also just started job searching, and his bike was the only way he was able to pick up and return job applications. For this youth, his bike was a life line. 

Desperate, the youth reached out to myself and his team, and asked if any support could be offered in this situation. He obviously felt overwhelmed as he thought through his limited options for getting his bike fixed all on his own. But with the gracious help of community donated funds, Family Care Network was able to cover the full cost of his bike repair, ensuring that he would have access to increased independence by having his own transportation.

For many, having a bike repair done may seem like a rather tedious but also fairly simple task. The ability to have the means to accomplish a bike repair may even be something that many of us might take for granted. But for a foster youth, this type of challenge can be viewed quite differently--more of a dead end instead of just an inconvenience. But with the help of our community, Family Care Network can ensure that youth lacking family support have the resources and the ability to handle and resolve stressful financial situations so they can achieve their goals; minimizing their mountains, and setting them up for more opportunities to succeed. 


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