Making it click

This past Saturday, I attended a training meeting for a mentoring program called "Make it Click".  It's a fairly new program (a couple years old) for a local foster care agency.  Based on what I learned from the orientation/training, I am very impressed with the program.  I heard about the program because I was searching for foster programs in the area and I found that this agency (Families First) has many opportunities to volunteer.  I signed up on their online volunteer application and a couple weeks later heard from them.  I got a call about the Make It Click program.  It sounded interesting, so I said I was interested.

There was a delay in the original training time because of the snow that shut the city down, but it was rescheduled to this last Saturday and I was able to meet the guy I had been talking to and learn more about the program.

I admit I was surprised when I arrived at the meeting and I was the only man (aside from the man conducting the meeting) who was there.  There were four women in attendance, but no other men.  Michael, the guy doing the training, pointed that out.  He said that men just don't volunteer for this kind of thing nearly as often as women do.  They have far more women than men in the program.  I think that's a very sad reflection on the male sex.  Certainly it's understandable given the basic biological differences in the sexes, but I still find it disappointing.

There was an enormous stack of papers given to us at the beginning of the training.  Some of it was paperwork we had to fill out and hand in.  The rest was guidelines and policies and other general information about the program.  I kept reading ahead from time to time, whenever we had a break or when I was bored by the current discussion.  There was a lot of interesting and helpful information in there.  There were some things that I was aware of before and other things that were new.  But there were several statements and statistics that I read that really drove home the reality of these children, and the families they are raised in.

Unfortunately, there is stigma against foster children and against their birth parents.  Unfortunately, there is stereotype of a very negative nature. Reading through this training material elicited deep compassion in me.  On three different occasions during the training, my eyes welled up with tears thinking about the issues discussed in the packet.  All people need to feel love.  Many children grow up feeling like no one actually loves them.  Many children in the foster program do feel love from their parents and are confused when they are removed from the home.  It can be difficult for them to feel love from other adults in their lives, especially when those adults are not consistently there to provide the support that they need.

I am very grateful for my parents.  I was raised well.  I was cared for and loved by my parents.  They had financial difficulties, but they always made us feel loved.  They always took care of our needs.  80% of children taken from their homes are because of neglect.  For one reason or another, the parents could not or would not satisfy their children's needs.  Judgment cannot be so swiftly placed on these parents because in some cases it is beyond their control.  Of course, that makes me feel even more strongly about social reform--an attempt to balance out the ridiculous economic inequality that exists in our nation.  I cannot imagine the desperation that a parent must feel when ey makes the realization that ey does not have the means to provide basic necessities for eir child.

I am excited about being part of this program.  I want to make a positive difference.  I want to be part of the solution of this problem.  As I stated in my previous post, I am committed to making society a better place and I strongly feel that caring for the parentless is a good way to help.  There are so many youth and children who for one reason or another do not have parents to raise them.  The old adage says that it takes a village to raise a child.  Our modern society often forgets that and expects the parent(s) to do it alone.  I feel a need to help.  I feel a desire to help.  I feel compassion for others.

I cannot pass the responsibility to anyone else.  I cannot say that the rich must take care of that because they have the money.  There's always someone richer.  The fact that I'm not a billionaire doesn't exempt me from giving what I have.  I cannot say that those with more free time must take care of that because I'm busy.  There are always excuses to avoid serving others.  The fact that I don't have my week completely open doesn't mean I can't make time for important things, such as helping others.  I cannot say that those who are more talented, or more nurturing by nature must take care of it.  There's always someone more skilled, someone more caring.  The fact that I am imperfect is not a reason that I cannot make an effort.  I will give what I can.  I will offer what I have.  It isn't much.  It isn't a vast monetary sum.  It isn't 100 hours a week.  I'm not the best at people skills.  But I will do what I can.  I offer the time and talents that I do possess.  I give the love and compassion that I have.  I share what time I can.