Friday, January 10, 2014

I forget!

I really do struggle with seeing the impact of my work.  I still feel like a little kid or teenager, that maybe I'm still just being "humored."  

I forget that it doesn't matter how small you are, or where you have come from that your voice is your voice.  That its one of the most effective ways to communicate.  Say what you mean, and mean what you say.

Octavia is a youth ambassador at my office, and she is a pretty amazing young lady.  She always comes in with a smile on her face, and she is ready to work. One of the things she does for me, and I'm not sure she realizes it, but I often hear her repeating the advice I have given to her.  She shares it!  It means a lot to me, because it shows that there is validity in what I have to say.  The support is a two-way street!.

Now I'm going to share her story.  She was so brave to share her story at the 2013 IL youth retreat.  Thank you Travis Lloyd for video taping this for us!  You caught a treasure!

Monday, June 10, 2013

One of the ways I knew

When you are in foster care you think about where you may end up a lot.  You have a fear that you are not unlike the statistics, stigmas and standards of kids in care.  Even though I had a healthy naivete about things, and I also had a "not like them," survival stance, you still wondered.  You knew you were about one mistake away from being a statistic.  No one wants to be status quo.

So when I found myself at Freshmen Orientation at Arcadia University, I knew that I should be very proud of myself.  In fact, I was five days away from spending my first semester in Scotland.  Wait, that's not in any foster kid primer I have read.  This is beyond the line of possibility.  Studying abroad, and seeing another country is what happens to other kids.

This post isn't about what fun Scotland was, its about how I knew I was ready and safe to go.  Would I have  done well without a safety net?  Would I have felt this adventurous without knowing that I had someone to catch me if I fell?  How did I know it was okay for me to go?  Now don't get me wrong, at 18 I wasn't saying to myself, "Now I have permanency,"  I found it in a very typical moment, and after much self-reflection

Arcadia University takes pride in its Freshmen Orientation, so we started with an opening ceremony where parents and students sat and listened to our dean.  I felt a mix of emotions, but I knew that the moment was coming where students and parents would separate for their prospective workshops.  The ceremony ended, and it was time to say goodbye.  I didn't want her to go.  I was nervous about meeting new people, and I knew that this was goodbye for four months.  It was a healthy, "age-appropriate", exciting good bye.  I was sad because I would miss Lisa, and I knew that I would be on my own.

When it was time to go, both of us started tearing up.  haha.  If you know Lisa, you might know that she's not frivolous.  She doesn't waste word, thought or action.  In fact, she probably doesn't even waste a second thought thinking about this moment, because it was what it was.  However, to me, it was another sign that I had hit the jack pot.  When you're a foster kid you don't always want success, you don't always just want to make it.  You want those moments when you and your loved one are both crying because its time to say good bye, even though you know you're going to see each other again in four months, which is great because you don't always get that luxury in care either.  She was sad to see me go. She wanted me to be safe.  She wanted me to succeed, and she cared if I succeeded or failed.  She was proud of me.  I think the important one of those feelings was that she was going to miss me, and that I was not at this momentous occasion alone.

And that is one of the ways I knew :-)

Here we are in 2005!  Freshmen Orientation! (before the tears)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Its been Foster Care Awareness Month!

I have been really really busy this month, and I'm quite proud of myself!  Never before have I immersed myself in this month's activities, and to be quite frank I was only planning on doing 2 things.  As you will see below I have done so much more!  A lot of it was being ready to jump right in, and thankfully many opportunities presented themselves as part of the network of organizations and people I have carefully created, supported, endorsed and promoted!

With the sound of a gong, May started with excitement!  All of my Facebook friends and twitter peeps were loud with shouts of, "Its Foster Care Awareness Month!"  I let my friends know that if they were a little unsettled with the amount of foster care stuff that I post, that they might want to consider hiding me from their newsfeed for the month.

It all started with daily "Did you know Posts" on the Pennsylvania Youth Advisory Board Facebook Page.  You can check us out, and follow along as there are still a few days left!  Our Facebook Page and our Website are great ways to keep tabs on what's happening with foster care in Pennsylvania.

I spoke about my experiences being a foster child on May 13th as part of the Pennsylvania State Resource Parent Association's Foster Care Awareness Event in the Harrisburg Capital building.  I got to meet Jimmy Wayne!

On May 17th, I wrote a blog about personal advocacy for " 31 Days, 31 Stories"  You can find my blog along with other stories  Here

May 20th and 21st brought me to Washington DC for a Congressional Shadow Day where I got to shadow Rhode Island Representative Langevin, who is a great advocate for foster children.

My state FCAA chapter did a pre-screening of ABC Family's "The Fosters," on May 25th.  Its a new show about a couple who take in foster children.  It got some great feedback!

The 2nd annual Memorial Day PA Foster Care Alumni of America Family Picnic took place on May 27th where we had 31 people and children in attendance!  I'm so proud of my alumni family, and so proud of my team.

In between each of these events is the not so everyday cool and amazing things I get to do as part of my job.  I train foster care case workers, I sat on the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts Roundtable (such an honor!), and I'm working with a group of YAB Core members to organize and plan a YAB Leadership Summit for June!  I'm really having the time of my life!  :-)

Why do I do the work that I do?  Lately I have been thinking of the things that I had to endure as a child in foster care and the aftermath, but I have also been thinking about all of the things that I didn't have to endure.    They are both of importance.  I want more and more kids in care to endure as little as possible.  I want them to fly to new heights, and I want their stories to be heard.  If I can play a little part in the work that my team(s) are doing I am happy.  Thank you to everyone who has supported me this month, and in the months before and to come.  Its so nice that my work happens to be so much fun!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Advocacy Feature


I wrote a blog for Strengthening Families and Changing Lives.

You can check it out here!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Pets for a Cause

I recently got a cat, and she's been immediately recruited, Meet Cleo, see her debut!

Let's see if this catches on. Take a pic of your pet and tweet it with #petsforchildwelfareawareness #fostercare and #fostercareawareness. Its still May after all!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Yours Truly,

You can see your favorite blogger being featured here!!!

I spent yesterday morning sharing my story in Harrisburg at the Capital Rotunda.  I love the work that I do!

Thank you everyone for your support!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Treat me like a baby

I wrote this post last year when I was thinking about foster kids and child development.  It kind of goes along with the "If I were yours," theme.  Its a little rough, but it came flowing out.  With the help of a good friend of mine, I realized how precious, beautiful and exceptional each child is.  Its not even about what their potential is, they just are.  

Treat me like a baby, adorable
Treat me like a baby, So cute it breaks your heart
Treat me like a baby, some people wait a long time for one
Treat me like a baby, someone to protect
Feed me, Bathe me, change me, cuddle and adore me

Treat me like a child, a delicate flower, 
Treat me like a child, the way I see in other families, something to cherish
Treat me like a child, full of potential, naïve, innocent
Treat me like a child, whole, unbroken
Watch me grow, Protect me, Raise me, Fix me

Treat me like a teenager, with the allowances of “typical” behavior
Treat me like a teenager, allowed to explore my identity
Treat me like a teenager, help me be comfortable in my skin
Treat me like a teenager, a valuable personality of my own
Allow me, Lead me, console me, watch me

Treat me like a young adult, with an unreachable horizon
Treat me like a young adult, be my cheerleader
Treat me like a young adult, Let me earn my freedom
Treat me like a young adult, Let me make mistakes
Lift me up, cheer me on, trust me, forgive me