Family Care Network’s mission is to “enhance the wellbeing of children and families in partnership with our community.’ If we didn’t partner with our community, we would not be able to provide the full array of services that we do. As such, we offer a variety of opportunities for the community to partner with us, and each one has a direct and positive impact on the lives of those we serve.
January is National Mentor Month, and during the month we like to honor all of the different individuals who volunteer their time and energy to support our community’s youth and families. At FCNI, we have multiple volunteer roles, including mentor, tutor, career mentor and admin volunteer; and all of these roles directly help us achieve our mission, “to enhance the wellbeing of children, youth and families in partnership with our community.” Matt Hanley, a local attorney, is currently a Mentor with us.
This year, Family Care Network launched our Give Joy fundraising campaign to raise funds to provide the children, youth and families in our care with everything they need to have a positive holiday experience. As our team was planning this campaign, setting goals, and reaching out to our community for support, I couldn’t help but reflect on the true meaning and impact of joy itself. After a very hard year, especially for the children and families we serve, there is such a need for joy and light-heartedness.
This past week has been disturbing and heart wrenching as our country has exploded in reaction to gross injustices and continued racism. For me, it brought back memories of heading to San Clemente Beach in 1965 to go surfing, and passing what seemed like miles of troops heading the other way en route to Los Angeles to quell the Watts riots. That was 55 years ago, but I remember it well. Though I lived some distance away from the tumult, the smoke of those fires could be clearly seen. And, like today, what started in Watts spread rapidly across the country.
I once worked with a youth who had been in the same foster home for about two years. By the time I joined the youth’s team, he was tired of being in his foster home and wanted to be reunited with his family. For those of us who got the honor of meeting this young man, we got to experience his joy and humor--he was a very happy young person to interact with. When I met him he’d already waited a long time and had done a lot of work to reunify with his family.
I am so grateful to be a part of the Central Coast community. Even in the midst of these unprecedented times, with uncertainty reaching every corner of our lives, we have come together to support one another. Ever since the COVID-19 health crisis hit us locally, I have seen some amazing examples of generosity and compassion.
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.
As many of you know who have followed my writings or blogs over the years, I have been very emphatic about building a strong foundation under the Family Care Network in order to effectively fulfill our mission “to enhance the wellbeing of children and families in partnership with our community.” This has included establishing seven Foundation-Principles from our beginning, that have guided our organization these past 32+ years, as well as embedding 10 Guiding Practice Principles.
“We all need someone who inspires us to do better than we know how.”
Why am I so passionate about mentoring?
Ever since 9/11, the term “First-Responder” has become embedded within our culture. It was not that long ago that they were simply referred to as police, firefighters, EMTs, et cetera. But First-Responder is really a great term–a class of emergency personnel ready and available anytime, anyplace; whatever the emergency might be.