One Friday in 1957, just before school was out for the year, my Mom scooped my sister and me up from school unexpectedly. Our Dodge Sierra station wagon--you know the kind with the small fins and turquoise panels--was packed full of stuff; lots of stuff. She said we were off on an adventure; wow, this sounded exciting!
Being located on the Central Coast of California certainly has some great perks. As we all know, we’ve got beautiful beaches, pretty perfect weather, and amazing wine and local cuisine, just to name a few. But by far, our area’s greatest perk is the strong community-spirit that pervades San Luis Obispo County. We here at FCNI see this spirit demonstrated time and time again.
Dear MM4K Participants....
This Saturday, April 21st, you will join close to 3000 community members with our staff and families to walk, run, volunteer and celebrate at our 15th Annual Miracle Miles for Kids event. MM4K is always a cause for much preparation, energy and joy at FCNI. To see so many of you, our community, coming together to pour support into our children, youth and families served through our programs is equal parts humbling and inspiring.
The saying, “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” while common isn’t often achievable for people who, alone, face impossible obstacles and hardships. Without family or friends’ support, how many of us could deal with losing our job and our home, especially with children to care for? How many of us could even house ourselves for very long without at least one person willing to extend a hand in help? This week on our blog, we have the privilege of sharing Alexandria’s story, another resilient spirit who has successfully graduated our Housing Support Program.
The month of April is designated as National Child Abuse Prevention Month, as well as the Month of the Child. It serves as a great platform for discussing the extent of trauma youth all across our country are living with, and how our politicians have showed complete disregard and lack of concern, and, at times, disdain towards the safety and wellbeing of children and youth in this country.
I believe that there is always hope even in times of despair. I have witnessed people experiencing darkness that seems inescapable, and I have seen these persons find hope in the hope of others. Individually, each of us has experienced disappointment, loss, grief and pain. How did we transcend these dark moments? Hope and help imparted through others. Certainly faith is a major ingredient to overcoming adversity, but it is through caring relationships with others that faith is truly manifested.
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.