Power of One
When it comes to being an adolescent in foster care, I think it’s safe to say that a majority of youth feel a bit alienated. Especially when they are not amongst others that share the same experiences as them. I would like to see more conversations about the importance of placing youth of color in homes that share their racial identity. Or when this isn’t possible, ensuring they have access to resources and/or opportunities that have to do with how they identify.
Power of One
“My name is Sierra and I am an addict.” I have probably said this more then anything else in my life. I attended my first meeting in January of 2013. I walked into the room scared — I was 16 and wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. Everyone around me was hugging one another, saying hi, and being friendly.
Dear Friends and Allies,
We finally have something big to celebrate for national Foster Care Month! A major shift has occurred in the child welfare system. Without much fanfare, the U.S. Congress passed the Family First Prevention Services Act this last winter. If implemented and funded well, this shift has the potential to be a “game changer” in how we care for our most vulnerable families and children.
We must go into the Black and Jewish ghettos, Latino and Hispanic boroughs, white trailer parks and dying Appalachian towns, China, Vietnamese, and Korea towns. We need to bring young people from these communities to the table and caucus with those who are the most affected. This must be done without hesitation and an extension of our commitment to lifting and deepening the leadership of youth most affected by poverty, and to building unity across lines of divisions of race, creed, and religion. In doing so, we are demonstrating the power of people coming together on issues that affect us all.
It goes without saying that some may question our passion and urgency to do this now, seduced by the alluring and placating notion of gradualism. And while I cannot speak for you, I can say firmly as an advocate that it is because I cannot wait; it is because if not now, when? and if not me, who? If there was any era I should want to be in to make the greatest impact, it would be this time right now. For in this moment and every moment that has preceded it and succeeds it — we have at our disposal the collection of techniques, skills, methods, and processes that our forefathers rooted in humanism could have only dreamed.
We must constantly seek improvement for ourselves and those around us, and we must continue to do so until there are no tent cities or panhandlers in the street — not because they have been swept or put in prison or asylums, but because they are resting peacefully in warm beds in homes of their own where they should be.
As advocates we must stick to the belief that people should not live in or die from poverty. We cannot fall victim to the false narrative so often perpetuated about these young people to justify criminalization and to perpetuate the economic exploitation, exclusion, and deep inequality that they experience.
And remember we are tasked with no light burden. We must constantly seek improvement for ourselves and those around us, and we must continue to do so until there are no tent cities or panhandlers in the street — not because they have been swept or put in prison or asylums, but because they are resting peacefully in warm beds in homes of their own where they should be.
As we look to change society, look also in the mirror and realize that we are both a part of the problem and indispensable to its solution. We are the harbingers of change we have been waiting for. And so, I will depend on you as you depend on me, arm in arm as we march to the mountaintop and take actions which realize the land of our promise to ourselves and to our young people.
Power of One
To make change you need to be involved. You need to tell your story, be involved, and share the outcome to make change. For me to tell this story, I must tell you a little about myself. I entered foster care at age 4 and exited at age 18. Since I am Native American, I was placed in the tribal welfare system.
Pay It Forward
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.
Pay It Forward
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.