What’s mattered most to you in your life? Really mattered. Take a moment to think about it.
When I answer the question, the first thing that comes to mind is family. As I’ve aged, my concept of family has morphed, and I have widened my definition to include my family by birth and the family created with friends. It reminds me that no matter what the origin, whether biological or social, we all seek out and benefit from the significant attachments we make. It is the people that surround us who act as our champions and stand beside us no matter what.
I’ve been fortunate to be able to apply this notion to the social justice work that we do for children who haven’t always had a connection to a family of champions who stand beside them. I’m just one of many advocates at Friends of Children speaking the truth about children at risk and acting to make sure that their needs are honestly identified and met. Every day, we work to create the kind of change that promises positive impact for this and future generations.
The kids we help and guide come to us adrift. They’ve been abused and have witnessed domestic violence or the ravages of drug addiction. They have parents who themselves have not had proper role models. They have parents who suffer from mental illness and have no consistent, impactful treatment and support. They are removed from their homes by a beleaguered state agency trying to do its job with inadequate resources and challenged, reactive leadership. And because of this, the children in their care are at risk of additional suffering.
These children we serve are infants. They’re young children who should be learning to read, with parents who are proud of their smallest accomplishments. They’re teens who’ve had to grow up too quickly, forced to be the adult in their homes, teens who struggle for independence as they also sort out from whom they are trying to be independent. They are angry. Bereft. Isolated. Scared. Mistrustful.
And yet, just beneath the covers of the books that are their lives, are hearts that want to be filled. We know the children we serve want to count on adults to provide a safety net that will allow them to grow, learn, trust and become people who believe they matter and have value in the world.
And that, in a nutshell, is the essence of everything that happens at Friends of Children as we provide that safety net, that model of nurturing adults.
Now, back to you. As you reflected on what matters to you did safety, security, love and friendship rise to the top? If yes, help us support the concept of family in our communities. Consider supporting our important work at Friends of Children. Help us help children in need.
Because in the end, the professionals and volunteers that make up Friends of Children are not that different from the children we help. Our circumstances are simply different.