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“I see now the circumstances of one’s birth are irrelevant. It is what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are.”


For a majority of my life I have been in situations where I felt so lonely, where I felt so misunderstood, where I felt so different. I waited and waited for the day where I would find a group of my “peers.” Somebody that didn’t make me feel so different, someone that understood me, someone that made me feel so much less lonely. I consider myself lucky though, I have had the opportunity to find solace in a few different groups that were able to give me some semblance of normalcy. From my peers in group treatment, to my classmates at the nerd or outcast table in high school, to the personal connections I made with the outstanding advocates I have met through the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative Youth Leadership Institute and also through FosterClub All-Stars.

Seeing so many people dealt a raw hand, so many youth told they would never amount to anything, that they would fail at whatever they would reach for, and that they would never find someone that cares for them, and seeing them take all that has been given to them and being able to transmute all of the crud into something so spectacular. I have had the honor of meeting some of the most articulate, caring, humble, and passionate people ever because of our shared interest in taking the circumstances of our births and other such circumstances we could not control and making them into something that we could use to benefit youth and other people that may have the displeasure of living through experiences we collectively fight against.

All-Stars has made me learn quite a few things, most of the lessons I have learned from other situations but relearning them here has been a very important step for me because when I learn I need multiple points of validation before I can really internalize it. I validated a few different lessons. Being able to look at someone and taking things that they say and do that may feel personal and setting it aside, being able to look at it from a lens of everyone’s situation is different rather than taking offense to something I may deem rude. Meeting so many people with so many different pasts looking at them as the beautiful, exquisite, collection of stories and knowledge that I may not have is a lesson that I really need to internalize and see with everyone I meet. It is really easy for me to fall into my own life, for me to think about the issues that I have come to, the complications that I have, and I feel that I need to be able to put my life into perspective. If I am dealing with all of this, all of the issues I am, then person B and person C are probably dealing with just as much, just in their own way.

The All-Star program is a chance for me to reflect, for me to grow as a person capable of understanding and being compassionate towards the differences and similarities of all around.

No matter what circumstances we as foster youth or youth in general are born into or grow into we have a chance to take the misgivings and the lessons we have learned to help better the future, I plan to.

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.

-Mahatma Gandhi

Jun 12, 2015 By JacobC