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.
"This is the time of year to be thankful. And I am thankful and honored that I not only knew, but had the opportunity to work with Carol Allen, retired Juvenile and Family Court Commissioner. Carol went to be with the Lord a few weeks ago as a result of complications from Covid-19. She was a remarkable woman who made a profound difference to the lives of children, youth and families here in San Luis Obispo County, and as a Board member of the Family Care Network. She was much loved and will be missed much as well." - CEO Jim Roberts
This week's blog is dedicated to one of our incredible past board members, Carol Allen, who recently passed away. Carol was a crucial member of the FCNI Team for years and we will miss her dearly. Read our CEO Jim Roberts' dedication to her in this week's blog to learn more about her impact at FCNI and how she helped shape the lives of children, youth, and families in our community.
Easton, his mom and his two younger brothers were facing an uphill battle. The family had recently left Easton’s dad due to his ongoing physical and emotional abuse which meant they had to flee their home. While they had found safety at a local shelter for survivors of domestic violence, their unhealed trauma and unmet mental health needs impacted their interactions --making communicating and healing together difficult.
Easton, his mom and his two younger brothers were facing an uphill battle. The family had recently left Easton’s dad due to his ongoing physical and emotional abuse which meant they had to flee their home. While they had found safety at a local shelter for survivors of domestic violence, their unhealed trauma and unmet mental health needs impacted their interactions --making communicating and healing together difficult. As an added stress, the Department of Social Services (DSS) had gotten involved in their situation due to ongoing safety issues between them. Easton and his brothers’ conflicts often escalated into violence, causing further trauma and harm. And the after-affects of domestic violence crippled Easton’s mom’s ability to intervene to keep them safe. This, as well as Easton’s mom increasing substance use, put their ability to stay together as a family at risk.
The Family Care Network has created its identity by thoughtful design. It is more than a company name–it embodies Social Justice principles, underlying beliefs and values, and our Mission. It is the soul and heart of our Practice of Caring! CEO Jim Roberts takes a deeper dive into the influence of Social Justice on our specific programs and services to the community.
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 am a firm believer that there is a “child” in all of us. Regardless of our age, we all love to play and have fun. But, if you have lost that inner child, then I’m going to try to revive it back to life. One of the healthiest things that we can do in the midst of this Covid-19 storm is to balance the ledgers filled with negativity and fear, with good old-fashioned fun!
I have heard it said, “Family is not an important thing–it is Everything!” Having a solid, loving family, however you define “family”, and no matter how imperfect it may be, is a gift. It is an invaluable treasure that you want never to lose. Our Family, clan or tribe, not only shapes who we are and what we believe, it also gives us identity, strength, protection and repose. Humans need other humans to survive. Family is the premier institution for shaping and nurturing individual and community health. Family really is Everything!
I stood there quietly, my hands covering my eyes. I was smack dab in the middle of a families’ living room, unsure of what would happen next as with this family, interactions had historically become volatile. I was counting to 30 in my head while listening intently for a sign that my intervention may be needed. I heard my 16 year old client attempting to help his adoptive mom find a hiding spot, trying unsuccessfully to whisper as he walked her through various options. Suddenly, and without warning, laughter erupted from across the room.