When I incorporated the Family Care Network almost 31 years ago, I had a very clear vision of how I wanted the organization to integrate with the community, and for how the community to integrate with the organization. In fact, we embedded this precept within our mission statement: “to enhance the wellbeing of children and families, in partnership with our community!” Legally, we are a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit Public Benefit Corporation, but for all intents and purposes – we are a Community-Based Organization! Let me explain the difference.
Redemption is a powerful word and concept for myself and my family. A simple definition of redemption is: “To rescue or deliver from.” It is also my short answer to the question, “Why did you adopt?”
November is National Adoption Month--a time to celebrate parentless children being assimilated into families. Much has been written as to how wonderful this is for kids and why it is the right thing to do; especially for foster children. But I would like to give you a back story; a context to the importance of adoption and permanency in the foster care system.
Every year, when I hear from staff that it is time to gather wish lists from our children, youth and families and submit them for Sponsor a Child, I generally respond with a sigh. Why a sigh? Because asking a child to identify gift(s) for their wish list is often met with confusion, resistance or other equally charged emotions. I have to remind myself that my excitement and enthusiasm for Sponsor a Child is not their experience.
Over the last six months, I have been doing Emergency Shelter Foster Care for FCNI in my home, during which time about 13 girls, all but two of them teens, have lived with me. I have soothed nightmares, eased the pain of detoxing from drugs, and have listened to traumatic stories of abuse, sex trafficking, abandonment, sibling separation and loss. I have been yelled and cussed at, have deescalated impending fights and have had girls run away.
This month, the Transitional Age Youth-Financial Assistance Program (TAY-FAP) is celebrating its five year anniversary with a Resolution from the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors and a celebratory awareness event at FCNI.
The potential for cruelty embedded within human nature is repulsive, especially when someone is perceived as being “different.” You need to venture no further than the schoolyard to see this concept manifested. Children can be brutal in their treatment of other children who they perceive as “deviating from the norm.” Teasing, taunting, bullying and outright physical aggression occurs far too often, resulting in serious trauma and emotional damage.
The Holidays are coming soon, and that means FCNI’s annual Sponsor a Child for the Holidays gift gathering campaign is well under way. Last year, the community fulfilled over 1000 wishes through Sponsor a Child—an impressive number that brought immense joy to those we serve, as well as a lot of inspiration and gratitude from our staff. This year, we will have an even greater need. At the end of each summer, we ask our children and youth to fill out their “Wish Lists” for the holidays, which we then distribute throughout our community.
September is National Recovery Month sponsored by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). I could think of no better way to honor this month than to write about my own Dad's recovery from alcoholism. One of my earliest memories is the sound of ice cubes clinking in a glass as I lay in bed and my Dad walked down the hallway past my room. He always had a glass in his hand. I was too young to understand that there was usually scotch or vodka in there, but I did know that his mood became darker and angrier the more he drank.
“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.”—Unknown