No one’s path in life is straight, without mountains to climb and valleys to cross. For foster youth, their mountains often appear much too early in life--oftentimes at birth. And without a community to look out for them, to help them weather and cross the difficult terrain that surfaces through not fault of their own, they can be left to wander, uncared for, for life. Too often, these individuals become victims of their circumstances, suffering cyclical consequences of a lifepath they never got to choose.
It is beginning to feel like our country is being overtaken by a pervasive, dense, ominous fog which is clouding our ability to see clearly and cause us to lose direction. It is like a subtle delusion, a siren wooing us into a state of self-destructive narcissism and causing us to abandon our foundations of civility, morality, compassion for others, empathy and a sense of common good. Forces of darkness are busy at work undermining and eroding away our stability, planting seeds of anarchy, fracturing and dividing us as a people.
As a child growing up, I had the good fortune to know and observe a wonderful friend of our family – his name was Ralph. He, and his wife Theda, had three children, and for many years our families were pretty inseparable. Growing up with a single parent, my mom, Ralph was kind of a surrogate dad; at least a great adult role model. And I couldn’t have chosen a better one.
Sponsor a Child for the Holidays is a time each year when our community comes together to make holiday dreams come true for the youth and families we serve. It’s a fun and magical time, and as a Social Worker at the Family Care Network for the past few years, I have many special memories of our families enjoying this tradition during the holidays.
Hurricane Harvey in August 2017 went down on record as being the wettest tropical cyclone and costliest natural disaster in the history of the United States. A huge portion of this devastation took place in Houston Texas, where thousands of families were instantly displaced from their homes due to extreme flooding, losing everything they owned. One such family was the Bowden family. Timothy and Jazmin and their two young daughters Vanessa and Liliana had no idea what was coming their way as they prepared to weather the incoming storm.
Each year, the Family Care Network has the honor of partnering with local organizations and businesses to make a difference in the lives of the children, youth and families we serve. Recently, we had the pleasure of partnering with Old Navy to create a unique opportunity for our young adults who are eager to learn about employment and working.
I guess it’s only natural to focus on the challenges of each stage of life; but how much more rewarding it is when we seek out the opportunities presented, especially when they involve enriching the life of another. Though I am considered a “senior citizen,” I plan to always be open to serving others through volunteering.
We live in an era where many people possess a strong dislike, distrust or outright hostility towards government. I don’t really share this belief. I like policemen and firefighters. I value clean, safe air and water, food which is safe to eat, buying products which are safe to use, armed forces to protect us from hostility, beautiful national parks to visit, excellent public schools for our kids, good roads to drive on, protection from monopolies poised to rip us off, and services to the poor, most vulnerable and fragile members of our society. I don’t mind being made to buy car insurance or health insurance or paying my fair share of taxes because I know it benefits everyone.
It is interesting how we evolve in our thinking—I like to believe it just gets better the older we get. For nearly 30 years now I have been at the helm of a “Nonprofit” organization, a term which certainly elicits a multiplicity of responses, not all of which are positive. The fact is, I don’t like the term “nonprofit.” When I was working on my graduate degree in business administration, the vogue terminology was “Third-Sector” organizations, in which I specialized. I’m sure you all know what that means, but just in case you forgot, it is simply the economic sector consisting of non-governmental organizations and other non-profit organizations. For many years, I chose to refer to our industry as “Not-for-Profit,” a more apt description, but, honestly, I really don’t like this term either.
David really wanted to be a good father, and provide for his family in all the ways his own father had not. Unfortunately, having experienced trauma growing up, David had mental health issues he didn’t know how to deal with and he turned to alcohol as a means to cope. When his two children, Molly and Manny, were very young, David’s struggles with alcoholism affected his ability to provide them a stable home and impacted his relationship with their mother, Ana, in very unhealthy ways. On all fronts, David and his family were in crisis.