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.
Category: Voice of our CEO
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.
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.
Saying goodbye to 2017 and welcoming 2018 is just another reminder that life is a continuous journey. The Family Care Network celebrated its 30-year journey in 2017. We took the opportunity to look back on our past, giving cause for great celebration of our trials and triumphs. However, I don’t think it’s healthy to dwell too much on the past--we need to continue to create our future.
The past few weeks have been somewhat of a shocker to me; a real hit from the blindside. Every year, the Family Care Network engages the community to provide a lovely holiday for the children, youth and families we serve – all of whom are victims of trauma and unfortunate life circumstances. This year, instead of asking folks to provide specific gifts for specific individuals, we asked people to contribute cash or gift cards so that we could empower our families to care for their own so they could experience the joy of giving themselves.
Is anyone else besides me feeling overwhelmed and worn out by the constant barrage of negativity permeating our lives? Seriously, I long to escape into the solitude of my garden, or retreat into my car to bathe in gentle, refreshing music. It is an ominous sign when every day seems to bring another scandal, tragedy or shocking event without reprieve; even worse than the day before! Thank goodness for corny Hallmark movies.
I have spent many years traveling to Sacramento to conduct one-on-one advocacy with state legislators and key policymakers. It’s a challenge, especially living several hundred miles away with no direct flight to Sacramento. The four to five hour drive gets old!
I have been working in the Human Services field in California for over 45 years, and I have to say, innovative, efficacious programs development by the State have been for the most part nonexistent. Seriously. Almost every important program for children and youth has been the result of litigation or the force of advocacy from the private sector. Even California’s new CCR-Foster Care Reform effort was birthed in response to a lost lawsuit.
As the Family Care Network moved toward and crossed its 30 year milestone, I was asked a lot of questions, such as: how does it feel to hit this anniversary, did I ever imagine FCNI would become what it has, am I planning to retire; what my future plans are, and so on. Probably some of the most important questions to me, however, were: why are you so driven, what has kept me going all these years, and what has been my best memory? Not surprisingly to me, the answer to all of these questions is the same—CHANGED LIVES!