As I have sojourned through seven decades of life, I have been in awe of the individuals who have been gifted with skills and abilities so beyond the norm. There are musicians, scientists, athletes, writers, artists; people in all walks of life who have a Special Calling to bless humanity with their unique gift. The contributions of the uniquely gifted make life rich, more meaningful and better for everyone. But, let’s not forget – each one of us has unique gifts and skills to contribute to the grand scope of life.
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
I wanted to write about how significant the relationship between a social worker and foster parent is. I started three other attempts to do so. I tried to make one light hearted and humorous in which I compared myself to a LEGO. Another draft, leaned more on drama. In that one, I actually described the relationship like, “A relationship forged in the fire of the foster care system.” Overly dramatic much? On my fourth attempt, I finally realized why I was having such a hard time describing it.
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.
Well, I think it's safe to say a lot of us did not expect to find ourselves here. Asked to stay at home and practice “social distancing”… and really do nothing but that. Maybe we’re getting outside for some fresh air, becoming tele-communication masters, tapping into our creativity, or, for some, starting to connect with parts of ourselves we’ve kept shuttered away for a long time.
“I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of Men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the Age of Men comes crashing down, but it is not this day! This day we fight!”
Being a mentor to anyone is not easy but being a mentor to a child or youth who’ve experienced trauma and/or instability, can be especially difficult. Fulfilling this important role for a child or youth who is healing from various hurts such as neglect, abuse or unmet mental health needs takes a lot of patience, commitment, empathy, good humor, compassion, creativity and, last but not least, time. Is it any wonder that we as a nation dedicate an entire month to celebrate the role of mentoring and those who choose to mentor?
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.
I have worked at the Family Care Network for over ten years, and the ways in which this work and this agency has impacted me is immeasurable. This work is humbling; it gives me the opportunity to serve others, help them have hope, and allows me to call my passion “work”. It has changed who I am as a friend, daughter and sister.
The work of the Family Care Network requires a lot of heart. As an agency which provides an array of human health services—from Emergency Shelter care for kids needing immediate safety to helping teens develop critical life skills to putting homeless families in affordable housing and supporting their efforts to become self-sufficient against numerous obstacles—FCNI utilizes all of the compassion, resolve and resources that our staff and community invest in our mission to meet high-needs on a daily basis. The individuals who dedicate themselves to our efforts do so for a multitude of reasons, but the most prevalent reason seems to be having a heart to serve. We know that many of us couldn’t meet the challenges that face us and the people we serve if our hearts weren’t in it; if we didn’t believe whole-heartedly in what we do and why we do it.