Originally posted on One Woman’s Journey
I struggle with these posts. It’s why I only have one other on the topic. Each time I sit down to write about anything that connects back to my past, I wind up crying. It’s emotionally exhausting and therapeutic all at the same time. Truth is–I need to do this more. I need to be okay talking about my past. I have goals and a dream to inspire others, to lift up our youth, to write a book, to speak on my journey, all with the intention of showing others what is possible. Truly, the backbone of this blog and its purpose is my past, the way it has defined me, the way it pushes me, and the reason I strive for balance, self-care, purpose and a better life for me and my family. When I think of the purpose of this blog and who I’m writing for/to, it’s to show that even if you have suffered deplorable circumstances, even if parts of your journey were difficult and cruel, that there is greatness in you, that all that you wish and hope for is possible.
As I get older, how I spend my time grows in importance. I want to spend my years giving skill and time to organizations that are making a difference–those that are providing a safety net for children who have had to face bumps in the road. On second thought, the challenges many of our youth have to face are more massive than merely “bumps in the road.” A better way to put it would be kids who have had to climb mountains and cross oceans on their way to adulthood.
Back in November (I believe) I got a message on LinkedIn from someone who comes from a very similar place as me. He saw my volunteer experience for a not-for-profit foster care association on my LinkedIn, and we started talking about our common upbringing. He mentioned that he sat on the board of the Wily Network, a not-for-profit organization that helps youth who are navigating college on their own due to foster care, homelessness, absent parents, etc. They assist with coaching, financial assistance and by providing a sense of community.
This safety net is significant when you consider that 97% of foster children don’t graduate from college or that most students who are estranged from their parents have never even had contact with social services. The number of children affected is hard to fully grasp. Many of these children separate from their parents as they get older and struggle to make their way through college, not connected to a group like those in foster care and possibly even more likely to fall through the cracks.
I’ve been working with the Wily Network, working with their amazing and passionate team and trying to offer any support or experience I can, as both a foster child alum and someone who has carved out her career in digital marketing and social media. I encourage you to learn more about what they do and the tremendous impact they are making.
If you’ve made it this far, please take a second and think, is this anyone that you know? Do you know a young person who has had a tough childhood? Abusive parents? Parents with mental health issues, parents that are incarcerated, parents that are so focused on making ends meet they aren’t able to support their children’s passions or future? Even if you decide not to donate your time or your resources, please learn more about the plight that these children face. Just take a few moments and imagine a child, broken, beaten down, no sense of self-worth, no positive example for them to look to, someone who has all the potential in the world, someone that just didn’t have a chance in this life. Now look at your child, your niece or nephew, your grandchild, and imagine this was one of them. What would you do, how far would you go to make their life better?
These kids don’t have that person.
We all need that person. Someone who believes in us and doesn’t give up. Can you look for opportunities to be that person, even in the smallest of ways?
If you would like to learn more, the Wily Network is hosting an online event where you will have the opportunity to join author Steve Pemberton for a virtual discussion and Q & A on his book, A Chance in the World. This fireside chat–like discussion will be moderated by Carmen Ortiz-McGhee with an introduction from Wily Scholar J’Saun Bastien.
I watched the movie. I cried, mourned and felt empathy for the childhood he lost, the pain he experienced, and I smiled and felt joy and identified with his journey. I was inspired by how he overcame his challenging upbringing and let it propel him to where he is now, an executive, a leader, a visionary and advocate for youth.
Steve will share his thoughts, insights and perspectives on the impact of the current crises on college students and the challenges that Wily Scholars and other disadvantaged youth are facing today.
You can register for the event here, and add it to your calendar for Monday, 6/27 from 6-7 p.m. EST.