Dear FosterClub Partners, Friends, and Family:
It is with great joy and trepidation that I am writing to you to inform you all that I'll be leaving FosterClub and moving back to my home state, Washington. There are very few things more hollow sounding or more vacuous than a goodbye letter- maybe some of your more lazy wedding ceremonies; maybe the kind of over-formatted and over template-ed thank you card you get after being one of two dozen volunteers at an event; definitely my high school and college graduation ceremony student and key note speakers. Much like those things, a goodbye letter is replete with clichés, self-aggrandizing and predictable (read: boring) statements about “how grateful I was for this” and “what an honor it was for that”.
But here’s a quick tip about life that I’ve learned: sometimes all that there is left to say is a cliché and that’s okay. Which is why I at least want to express that I so enjoyed my time at FosterClub and I’ve learned so much from everyone I’ve worked with, especially Celeste (FosterClub’s executive director for those of you that don’t know). I’ve worked my way up from an intern in the organization to the Director of Policy, crafting an area of FosterClub that previously didn’t exist. And it’s not something that I’ll ever be able to forget.
As I look back I can focus on the accomplishments as much as I would like but because of the struggle (The struggle is real!) my experience with FosterClub was truly special. In the same way that a silence in a conversation can speak volumes, your struggles tell you a whole lot about what there is left to do. I’ve struggled with the direction of child welfare, the popular issues that catch on seemingly out of nowhere, people who are really well intentioned but totally clueless, and a variety of other things. Mostly though, I’ve struggled with myself.
Working to change the foster care system can be brutally slow and sometimes it can seem hopeless or like you don’t know what to do next. But to all of my young leaders, advocates, caregivers, researchers, policy makers, and any child welfare professionals I haven’t mentioned, please believe that an improvement in the life of a foster youth is possible and that YOU are the one that needs to do it. The system is a lot bigger than you or I and it will probably mark my absence from it with hardly a blip on the foster care radar but (and this is my struggle) you and I both need to know that it is okay. Change is happening even if you aren’t the one directing those happenings. When you inspired a young person from foster care to live up to their potential or assure them that everything will be okay, foster care became better. With every conversation you have with someone that doesn’t know much about foster care, foster care is better. When you help fill a gap in the rules about how foster care works, foster care will be better.
And in the mode of making foster care better I leave you with this final thought from a very interesting (if a bit intense) philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, “Those in chains can still set others free.” Call me crazy but it occurs to me that most people don't know that they can help (foster care, their community, the world) because they think that they are in too much of a tailspin in their personal lives to be of value to others. But I want to assure you that you are of great value merely by your presence. Just by your being there, you give others energy to fight and permission to speak loudly when a voice needs to be heard. This is why I’m not at all afraid to give over my work to you. The foster care community is strong and together you will do great things for foster youth. Wish me luck as I pursue some of my greatest loves- my city, Seattle; my partner, Melissa; and my education, whatever that may be.
With Much Love,