Mockingbird Times October, 2017



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Jade Tillequotsannie jade

It is easy to stay focused on the negative of our experiences, but something I have found useful for myself and those around me is to use my experience to build community. Being 22 years old and living and surviving everything I have endured, I should be bitter. But I’m not. Instead, I work to improve my community on the Yakama Reservation by using my story. I pay it forward in my community, by enhancing the lives of not only youth in care, but all youth in my community. I have multiple jobs that allow me to help break down the walls youth often build up, including working as a Chapter Leader for The Mockingbird Society and as an administrative assistant at Sacred Road Ministries.

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Emily Pico

Since becoming a Hub Home provider in a Mockingbird Constellation I have gotten used to a little bedtime tradition: As soon as I climb into bed I hear the buzzing of my phone. The text reads, “I know it’s late, but can you talk?” I sneak out of bed, tiptoe downstairs, and make the call. These calls and texts come at all hours, and every time I find a parent or youth on the other end of the phone who is preventing a crisis.


annie blackledgeDear Friends and Allies,

What does “Pay it Forward” mean to you? For me, it means an entire career in service of the current generation of children and youth who will enter the foster care system or find themselves homeless. As many of you know, I experienced foster care and homelessness as a child and into my adolescence. I pay it forward for all the people who helped me when I was young. I pay it forward to keep the promise to the fourteen-year-old girl I was, who knew that no child should be treated this way.

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My-Le Tang
my le

My personal experience, as a former foster youth, a homeless youth, and now a Legislative Aide for Representative Fey has given me a unique perspective on the way I approach policies. As I get older, I see the world as a much more beautiful place than I did when I was young. I have learned how to effectively navigate within the current structures with the opportunities that are available to me working at the legislature.

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Johnathan Hemphill

A young girl sits with her father for the final time. A single parent with no other living relatives, the emaciated man raises his head to address her. As their eyes meet he grasps her weakly and gives her a hug and gently says to her: “I love you.” She meets these words with acceptance, as she always had, but also with confusion, as everything about him had changed. From the mighty figure with piercing eyes and a hearty grin, to a withered man, he could only give her a faint, weary smile...

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Sierra Phillipsjohnny

Johnny Ohta is a Homeless Youth Chemical Dependency Professional with Ryther, working with homeless and at-risk youth and young adults who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse. Johnny’s style is unique: He meets them where they are and not only works to help them understand complete abstinence, but also works to educate them on harm reduction and help guide them in their journey. Johnny understands that some people are not always ready for sobriety so he starts by educating them on how to reduce the effects of using.

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Terry Jackson

To be able to make change in your community, first you have to educate yourself on the causes of homelessness, then you need to take action. Education combined with action can help people in your community who are experiencing homelessness and will inspire others to help as well.

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Connor Mendoza

It’s that time of year again when families and friends gather to celebrate the holidays. Traditions continue down generations and new ones begin. People sitting at a table pass food to one another with jingles playing softly in the background...

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Leah Nguyenlaura riel

As she reflects on the end of her 14-year career at Catholic Charities Serving Central Washington, Laura Riel looks back at nearly a decade and a half of accomplishments and work still to be done. The young people she worked with appreciate her for her honesty and clarity. Her colleagues admire how Laura made policies and programs that were reflective of youth needs and how she always took time to understand a young person’s perspective to help them find their own answers.

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Tatyana Barrontatyana

One of the ways I pay it forward is through my work as a Network Representative with The Mockingbird Society, a leadership team member of Youth Advocates Ending Homelessness (YAEH), and a voting member of The Office of Homeless Youth Advisory Committee. Since I’m no longer homeless or in foster care, many of the things I have worked to improve within both the systems of foster care and youth homelessness won’t impact me directly, but they will impact those in similar situations who come behind me.

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Ezra Alemezra

Coming from an environment with a troubled past and moving to one like The Mockingbird Society can be somewhat stressful. The amount of tension that is caused by opening your past and sharing your stories can be overwhelming. The Mockingbird Society gave me the opportunity to learn and understand how to use my experience in a positive way.

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Azia Ruff

Three hundred words to tell the world
how to pay it forward.
How does one contain such a concept
within a quarter page article?
I am just a youth, with half the clues as you

2021 Archives

We Welcome
Your Work

We welcome submissions of articles, poetry, artwork, and photography from our young readers who have experience in the foster care system and/ or homelessness. If you want to be, or have been, published in the Mockingbird Times visit, call us at (206) 407-2134 or email us at youthprograms@ Note: Incoming letters to the editor and correspondence to youth under 18 years should be addressed to the Mockingbird Times and will be opened first by adult editorial staff.