Special Contribution iconSpecial Contribution

Bekah Manikowskibekah

Passion can be terrifying. In foster care, there is a reverence in planning. In life, most are told there is only one correct path. Ignoring the typical narrative and following your passion is scary, but terribly important. That’s why it’s necessary to find people who will support your quest to be happy. As for me, I took a leap of faith and ended up at The Mockingbird Society.

I was working on a course about media and social change, when I realized that foster care was the issue I cared most about. My siblings and I had been in foster care, but I did not possess the advocacy tools, vocabulary, or maturity to make a difference at the time. Although my family and friends supported me the best they could, they couldn’t fully understand the complexity behind my feelings about foster care. During research for the project I was working on, I came across The Mockingbird Society for the first time. Finding Mockingbird was like finding family. They are a group of people whose hearts beat to the same drum that mine does. A beat I had only just translated.

"Passion can be terrifying."

I was fortunate enough to receive an internship grant from my school and I knew I wanted to work with Mockingbird. The tricky part was that I would be asking for a job that didn’t exist. They had two established internships, but neither was the fit for me. Instead of looking elsewhere, I emailed them and asked for a media internship. It was perhaps the boldest email I’ve ever sent. Vulnerability, it turns out, isn’t usually a strong suit of foster youth. It was only after I heard back that I let out the breath I had been holding in. Turns out, they were just starting to search for someone with my skills.

My internship stretched from May through August. I’ve been producing a summer video series about the regional Youth Network chapters, a series of videos about being a better advocate, as well as a staff media training. In return, I have been given a community. I cannot express how grounding it is to work with people who, without prompting, understand the weight and importance of the things I carry with me from my foster care experience. At Mockingbird, my passion for advocacy is valued. They understand that my experience with foster care is inseparable from my identity and influences my current passions.

I’m not sure what’s next on my journey. I can see myself applying to a MSW program, working at a production company, or a whole host of other ideas. That’s the thing about passion: It’s always going to be a little scary and uncertain. What I’ve learned at Mockingbird, however, is that this fear is a signal that it’s important. I may not know where I’ll be a year from now, but I know that my passions will be leading me. I also know that the Mockingbird community will be there to cheer me on every step of the way. For that, and for so much else, I would like to say: Thank you.

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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 www.mockingbirdsociety.org, call us at (206) 407-2134 or email us at youthprograms@ mockingbirdsociety.org. 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.