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.
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.
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.
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 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.
I am one of the lucky ones. I grew up in a home, with two parents who loved me and provided for me. I was safe and secure. This was my “normal” and I assumed everyone else had the same. The first time I realized I was lucky, was when a boy named Anthony moved in with us. I was in the first grade, my brother was in third grade, and now we had another person joining our family, a foster brother, and he was a fifth grader. I had heard the word “foster” before.
Words from our Board of Directors