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’m writing this from the table in our motorhome; the motorhome we bought two years ago when we decided we were ready to retire, sell our home and go traveling. In the past two years we have been through so much--continuing to foster teens while keeping the house clean and ready to show with only four hours notice. One thing that made me so happy was that our kids were supportive of our plan to retire and sell the house, even if it meant they would have to move on. We were happy to be part of Wraparound Foster Care which meant that there was a plan for the kids and placements were intended to be short-term. None of the kids ever complained about picking up their rooms or about heading with me out of the house so we wouldn’t be around for the showings. It took about a year and a half, but we finally sold our house and either sold, gave away or stored the majority of our belongings in order to move into the motorhome. It’s been about three weeks and I have been doing a lot of reflecting about life as a Resource Parent and about some of the kids who touched my heart over the last 22 years…
Recently, I pulled up a slide presentation for a training I lead for staff here at Family Care Network about Intimate Partner Violence. In my effort to refresh the slides and update statistical information, I was reminded that October marks National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
In providing this training to my colleagues, I sometimes preface my presentation by stating that although I did not learn what I am sharing in college or at an institute, I feel that I have expertise in the subject of Domestic Violence because I lived it. As a child who grew up in an abusive home where the cycle of violence played out over and over again with the abuse becoming increasingly worse over the years, sometimes I feel as if I have earned a degree in the subject from the school of hard knocks.
I have been working in the Human Services field in California for over 45 years, and I have to say, innovative, efficacious programs development by the State have been for the most part nonexistent. Seriously. Almost every important program for children and youth has been the result of litigation or the force of advocacy from the private sector. Even California’s new CCR-Foster Care Reform effort was birthed in response to a lost lawsuit.
“Family of origin” is just a fancy way of talking about the family that you grew up in. For a large portion of us, a “family of origin” means our biological mother, father, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and the like. If you will indulge me for a moment, I would like for you to take a moment and reflect on your family of origin. When I reflect on mine, I have memories of my dad’s humor, my mother’s cooking, family traditions, fighting with my brothers, feeling scared, feeling happy, feeling loved, feeling lonely, and the list goes on.
Why are our success rates and our quarterly progress indicator numbers so high at the Family Care Network, you might ask? And what does “success” really look like with the families we serve? Confusion and skepticism about our reports is expected, until you experience a program like Wraparound (Familia de Novo) in your own family like I did, and then go on to support our families in the same program as a Parent Partner.
September is National Recovery Month, and to honor those in our care who are on their own personal journey of recovery, we want to share the inspiring story of Bethany, one of our successful Transitional-Aged Youth. The following story is a reminder that recovery is not a destination to arrive at, but rather a journey to celebrate.
As the Family Care Network moved toward and crossed its 30 year milestone, I was asked a lot of questions, such as: how does it feel to hit this anniversary, did I ever imagine FCNI would become what it has, am I planning to retire; what my future plans are, and so on. Probably some of the most important questions to me, however, were: why are you so driven, what has kept me going all these years, and what has been my best memory? Not surprisingly to me, the answer to all of these questions is the same—CHANGED LIVES!
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.
August 21st marks 30 years since the Family Care Network opened its doors to begin serving our community’s children, youth and families impacted by trauma. We’ve been celebrating this milestone all year by walking you through our 30 year journey, spotlighting important people, partnerships and moments which have made the last 30 years not only possible but exceptional.
Ann Ward is certainly someone who has made the last 30 years possible. She and her husband were two of our first foster parents. They’ve been with FCNI from day one, and have served hundreds of children and families in profound ways over the years. Ann has also become an invaluable trainer and foster parent support person, helping others to serve and succeed.
The following was written by Ann in honor of the last 30 years--and reflects her tremendous heart for our mission and our community!