It’s the most wonderful time of the year…or so the song goes, right? According to the song, kids should be “jingle belling” and our collective hearts should be glowing. I’m “all in” for living in that world. However, reality is often far from this lovely image of this hypothetical holiday-world. The bigger reality is that the holidays can be a very difficult time. Our kids and families are no exception and, in fact, their traumatic experiences and situations can make it the most difficult time, far from wonderful.
The holiday season can truly be a magical time for us all. It is wonderful to spend time with family, have big holiday dinners and, of course, give and receive presents. It is a time to celebrate and Give Joy. But for some, the holidays can be absolutely dreadful. Holidays are expensive and, as a struggling parent, fear can take over, knowing that you won’t be able to provide for your child. A distressing reminder that due to current circumstances you cannot make ends meet let alone make the holidays special.
The Mountain Air is a local business who have found unique supportive ways to help our mission. They not only have held generous fundraising events to benefit FCNI, but they recently invited our youth to participate in designing and executing a community art project, enabling her to express herself in a safe and encouraging environment. Read more about Josh and Lindsey Haring of The Mountain Air to learn more about why they support us and why they chose our youth for this very special art project.
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.
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.
“We all need someone who inspires us to do better than we know how.”
Why am I so passionate about mentoring?