On January 29, 2016 The Mockingbird Society will host our annual Youth Advocacy Day. On this day each year, all of our participants and allies come together in Olympia to rally and support the policy proposals the Mockingbird Youth Network and Youth Advocates Ending Homelessness came up with over the past year. It is a very important, very exciting day. I hope anyone who can attend, will attend.
The Youth Advocates Ending Homelessness (YAEH) program has been working hard on their statewide reform ideas for 2016 — increasing funding for HOPE Beds and including youth voice on the Office of Homeless Youth Prevention and Protection Advisory Board (OHYPP).
I want to express my deepest gratitude to everyone in The Mockingbird Society community. Over the past six months, it has been an honor to be a part of the work that our youth, staff, board, volunteers and supporters have accomplished to improve foster care and end youth homelessness.
I was attending my first Foster Youth and Alumni Leadership Summit this past August, when I randomly met Kim Justice for the first time. I had no idea who she was, but learned that she was a member of the Board of Directors for The Mockingbird Society. As I watched Kim prepare for her Summit speech I thought, “What a natural!” In December, Kim was hired to be the Director of the Office of Homeless Youth Prevention and Protection. I wanted to get a better idea of why she continues to do the work she does, so I interviewed her for the Times.
Following Jim’s departure from The Mockingbird Society, our agency has conducted two extensive searches for a new leader. After a 12-month process, we are happy to say that we have finally hired on our new Executive Director. Her name is Annie Blackledge, and she comes with a wealth of knowledge about vulnerable populations, systems, and child welfare issues. I was fortunate enough to be able to sit down with Annie prior to her official start date (January 11th, 2016), and ask her some questions so readers can get to know the amazing person she is.
The Mockingbird Society has accomplished much in its 15 years of existence. Part of what keeps us going strong year after year is the ability to build support for what we call “legacy issues.”
Legacy issues are issues that are so big, that once we topple them, they help define the legacy we will leave behind. They require us to bring nothing short of our “A game,” and usually require a good amount of time to address. Often times, a legacy issue can be broken down into smaller sub issues that we tackle year after year.
“What rituals do you have for ending the old year or starting off the new one well?”
“My rituals for ending the year involve burning that current years’ list of regrets, and reminding myself that the pain will be useful in the new year. “Perfect et obdura, dolorhictibi proderit olim.” Latin for ‘Be patient, and remain tough; this pain will be useful to you someday.’”— Everett chapter member, Wesley Robinson