Volunteers are an essential element of FCNI. So much so, that we have an entire department dedicated to working with the 500+ volunteers who work with us each year--some as mentors or tutors, and others who work on our fundraising events or help with administrative tasks. Our volunteers dedicate over 3,000 hours every year to our mission--that’s a lot of time, energy and compassion in motion!
I’m Nat, a Rehabilitation Specialist working with youth at Family Care Network. I’ve been a mentor for about six months now, and I’d like to share about my experience because I think that mentoring foster youth makes a big difference in their lives and in our community. I met my mentee working as a Rehabilitation Specialist in our Emergency Shelter Care Program. She was in a shelter foster home for about six months, and during those months I picked her up from school almost every day, and spent the rest of the day with her.
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.
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.
January is National Mentor Month, and we want to honor the many individuals who volunteer their time and energy to support our kids. Our mentors are some of the most amazing people. And the relationships they build with our kids are often times life-changing for both mentors and mentees.
We’d like to introduce you to Colleen and Angelo, an FCNI mentor and mentee, who want to share a sneak peek into their special relationship.
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?” -Martin Luther King Jr.
The quote above, by the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, has always been one of my favorites. I love Dr. King’s words because, at least in my own attempts to explain why I feel it necessary to perform service for others, I seemingly fail to capture the original impulse which has led me to service in the first place. There’s always something missing from my explanation; something just beneath the surface which I can’t quite put into words. This inarticulation presents a strange paradox that I suppose many people other than myself find themselves in, particularly those who enter public service fields. With that said, I’ve found myself reflecting on this quote a lot over the last year. You see, I’ve been working as an AmeriCorps member here at the Family Care Network since September 2016. AmeriCorps is a federal program with the express goal of engaging adults in public service work with aims of "helping others and meeting critical needs in the community." The simplest way to think of AmeriCorps is as the U.S. domestic version of the more well-known Peace Corps program.
“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” –Malcom X
This quote comes to mind as I think about all of the amazing young people I have the privilege to see move forward with their educational and career goals. Whether it is the elementary student who is connected with a perfect tutor to help them catch up with their peers, a high school senior who learns they have been accepted to all of the universities they applied to, or it's the new college graduate who lands the job of their dreams! Each one of the students we serve overcome many obstacles to reach their goals!
Our volunteers are not only appreciated, they are critical to our work. As a Community-Based Organization, our agency is heavily embedded in our community, just as our community is embedded in us—we must mutually serve and respond to one another’s needs. Caring for local children, youth and families means that we need a variety of people to carry out an assortment of important positions, including mentoring and tutoring, as well as volunteering at events, in our office or to meet a family’s needs. Without a team of people pulling together, contributing their time, talents and compassion to our mission, we could not execute a program, meet a single need, change one life, or empower one person to reach their goals, let alone the over 1800 lives we impact annually. Our community of volunteers are vital to us achieving our mission year in and year out
I have always loved working with children and I hope that I have some positive impact in their lives. I knew that I had a great volunteer opportunity when I read the Family Care Network’s (FCNI) mentorship request online. It had my name written all over it!
Four years ago I was a bit lost. To help me find my footing again, I thought that a mentor or at least someone I could confide in, would be helpful. So I embarked on mentor relationship and it truly changed my life. And over the course of our three year relationship, my Mentor has become a father figure to me and a really close friend. Growing up in the environment that I did—parents struggling with addiction and having been homeless for a period of time—I wish I had had a mentor to help guide me through these difficult circumstances.