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.
We have all been there, seated in a crowded restaurant flooded with the tumult of voices amalgamated into a decibel level so high it is untenable, making it impossible to have a normal conversation. People are talking, but no one is really listening. It is just noise. This serves as a perfect metaphor for our legislative process – the din of voices and wagging tongues, but no one is really listening! Unless you are one of the favored few who can buy ears to listen, you just become part of the noise!
I named the “Family Care Network” with a specific intent. FAMILY is our most important social institution and every effort should be made to support and strengthen families. A society exhibiting the disintegration of Family, is a society at great risk! The health of families is the most important ingredient to a healthy civil society. The stronger our family structure, the stronger and healthier we are as a nation. There is no disagreement--every child needs a healthy family! Let’s do our best to make sure this happens.
Volunteers are an essential element of FCNI. So much so, that we have an entire department dedicated to working with the 500+ volunteers who work with us each year--some as mentors or tutors, and others who work on our fundraising events or help with administrative tasks. Our volunteers dedicate over 3,000 hours every year to our mission--that’s a lot of time, energy and compassion in motion!