No one’s path in life is straight, without mountains to climb and valleys to cross. For foster youth, their mountains often appear much too early in life--oftentimes at birth. And without a community to look out for them, to help them weather and cross the difficult terrain that surfaces through not fault of their own, they can be left to wander, uncared for, for life. Too often, these individuals become victims of their circumstances, suffering cyclical consequences of a lifepath they never got to choose.
March is National Social Work month, and we want to honor this challenging, rewarding and vital career by spotlighting how our Social Workers don’t create strong families and youth, but rather, they uncover and equip the strength that already exists within them. Social Workers see the hope, the potential and the ability to heal that a hurting family or youth cannot, and works to help them remove barriers to unleash these truths so they can heal, flourish and achieve their goals.
I have spent the better part of 50 years working in a child welfare and juvenile justice system designed to intervene with youth who have “gone over the falls” and crashed into the rocks below. For decades, our children’s system of care has consumed millions of dollars reacting to child abuse, adverse childhood experiences, delinquent behavior, et cetera, instead of proactively working to stop children and youth from entering the child welfare/juvenile justice system in the first place.
It is beginning to feel like our country is being overtaken by a pervasive, dense, ominous fog which is clouding our ability to see clearly and cause us to lose direction. It is like a subtle delusion, a siren wooing us into a state of self-destructive narcissism and causing us to abandon our foundations of civility, morality, compassion for others, empathy and a sense of common good. Forces of darkness are busy at work undermining and eroding away our stability, planting seeds of anarchy, fracturing and dividing us as a people.
February is Heart Month, and we are highlighting some of the amazing individuals at the heart of our services. We want to introduce you to Carole, an amazing individual who has recently graduated from the Housing Support Program. We hope you find her journey inspiring, and that her words might help instigate needed change. We certainly think that she is an inspiration! The following is her story, shared with us in a recent interview.
As I contemplated what it means to be the “heart” of something, I struggled to really define what that phrase really encompasses. Being the “heart” of something indicates that it is essential, and that progress and life could not move forward without it. This term also suggests that there is a deep emotional driving factor involved in it’s work. And it also has to be something that does its job all the time without fail.
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.
Volunteerism should be a big deal in our country. It is universally valued--nobody in their right mind would say disparaging words about volunteers or volunteering. Not everyone can be a philanthropic giver, but most everyone can be a volunteer. You don’t have to have wealth or material resource; you just need to have time, heart and a sense of adventure. Volunteering is not age constrained and can be enjoyed by both the young and old. Volunteering is not only good for society--organizations like the Family Care Network depend on it--but it’s good for you, the Volunteer.
On April 21st, we will be hosting our 15th annual Miracle Miles for Kids. It will be a time to celebrate as a community and to look back on how this amazing 10k started, and the impact it has had on the most vulnerable children and families on the Central Coast.
Mentor relationship aren’t just made, they’re cultivated through shared experiences, earned trust and genuine care. We always appreciate the compassion and patience our Mentors show towards their developing mentor relationships, as it makes all the difference in showing our kids that each one of them is important and unique.