These remarks were delivered by Executive Director Jane Lyons at the Friends of Children 2014 Red Show Ball.
“When you go into foster care, you hurt every day.”
These emblematic words were spoken by nearly 18 year old Ross to his social worker while participating in Friends of Children’s Seeing Their Voices project. He was describing his memory of his 7 years in foster care after removal from his mother’s home. After 7 years, his hurt was fresh and he was grieving this most momentous of losses. He could no longer remember why he had been removed from his mother’s care, who despite supports and interventions, could not protect her children from her own actions. But he recalled the hurt clearly.
I invoke Ross’s words here tonight because it seemed important to note that not only is he a child in our neighborhood from whom we should never turn away, but like the other children FOC serves, he is like us.
He grieves like us. Even when relationships have been bad for us, we hurt when they are gone.
When we don’t know who will be our people…those we can count on, we feel deeply alone.
When we don’t have one person who will love us no matter what, we are adrift and can’t imagine our future without despair.
At times, we are just not that different from the children and families Friends of Children sees every day. But we have opportunities that these kids haven’t. And so we help create new opportunities to level their playing field.
We stand by their sides until they are safe and gain tools and skills to build on so they can succeed. We provide a strong voice for their needs when they are too young to do so on their own. We let them know that children are supposed to be children, not pretend adults with the weight of the world on their shoulders. We partner with other helpers even when their own systems cannot or will not help them do their jobs effectively and compassionately.
We make sure that the key people in their lives don’t give up on them.
We make sure vulnerable kids can build a future … and that they don’t do that alone.
Friends of Children doesn’t work on a “breaking news” basis. This is our every day mission. We link arms with our volunteers and others who work with kids to change what first look like trajectories of despair into futures of hope.
Because every day, there is a new Ross.