June 7, 13 ·
One of the things that really excited me about coming to work for CCY was the diversity of the membership of the organization and of the youth that we all represent and serve, as noted in our mission to improve and empower the lives of California’s youth. As many of you probably know already, LGBT youth are vastly over-represented among homeless youth, with studies showing that anywhere from 20-40% of all youth who experience homelessness are LGBT. We are working hard with many of our member organizations to reach out and help make sure that all youth are getting the help and resources they need, and there is a lot of focus on special efforts to help our LGBT youth. We have so much more to do, but it certainly helps when we have the support of the leader of our country. That’s why I am so proud to see that once again our President has issued a proclamation acknowledging June as LGBT Pride Month across our country. It’s something that I never thought I would see earlier in my life.
I came out as a young gay man in 1974, only 5 years after the Stonewall Riots in New York City, which started on the evening of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn. It’s the reason we celebrate Pride Month in June all across the country and even around the world. Out of those early days grew a movement that faced up to the ignorance, bigotry and hatred that so many had endured and faced a lot of obstacles to become a cohesive community. I was one of the early activists and still remember marching in protests and fighting against the establishment to demand that we be treated with the same rights and dignity as any other segment of society. Change doesn’t happen overnight, our early successes were few and far between, and for a long time during those early years I never dreamed that one day I would see the President of our country acknowledge the LGBT community and our right for equality across the board, including the right to marry. Here’s just part of what President Obama noted in his new proclamation that was just released:
“This year, we celebrate LGBT Pride Month at a moment of great hope and progress, recognizing that more needs to be done. Support for LGBT equality is growing, led by a generation which understands that, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” In the past year, for the first time, voters in multiple States affirmed marriage equality for same-sex couples. State and local governments have taken important steps to provide much-needed protections for transgender Americans.
We have witnessed real and lasting change, but our work is not complete. We have a long way to go, but if we continue on this path together, I am confident that one day soon, from coast to coast, all of our young people will look to the future with the same sense of promise and possibility. I am confident because I have seen the talent, passion, and commitment of LGBT advocates and their allies, and I know that when voices are joined in common purpose, they cannot be stopped.”
That said, we still have a long way to go. 26 states in our country still don’t have any laws protecting the rights of LGBT citizens. But just for now let us all recognize the advancements we have made and take the time to appreciate what we have accomplished, and to honor our President for his support.
April 30, 13 ·
I have noticed a pattern among my peers and me. Many of us transition aged youth that are emancipating out of foster care and/or facing any kind of adverse challenges in life struggle because we do not having a support system of dedicated caring adults who we can count on. Although there are supportive services like transitional housing programs and other non-profit organizations that aid youth in becoming happy,healthy, and self sufficient adults, those programs only last for 18-24 months.
After the program ends, young people still need support in accomplishing goals and/or overcoming other life challenges they may encounter in the future. The support they need includes emotional, financial and academic. Having these supportive relationships is imperative and conducive to any human being no matter what socioeconomic background they come from. Some people are fortunate to have their parents to provide these needs, but others don’t have that option.
In the program I participate in, I noticed that I count of certain friends to do things for me, and it seems like they seldom follow through on what I ask of them. As a result I sometimes become angry at the individual and want to disassociate from the individual all together. But after having meeting with Ms. Hildreth, the program director, she changed my entire perception of what my expectations are for these certain individuals in my life. It is simple – some of my friends I enjoy being around to socialize with and go hang out on the weekends, but that same person isn’t going to be the same person I can count on to give me a ride to the airport. That doesn’t mean that person isn’t a sincere friend, it just means they’re not the person I would rely on for such important things. Once I started to establish my support system with this new understanding, I was more relieved and became less angry and disappointed in my friends. I also was able to get more of my needs met. I also have been able to process through personal challenges more effectively.
I am currently entering a new chapter in my life of becoming a mother, and I am grateful to have a support system of individuals who believe in me. I am always open to building new relationships and networking with people to accomplish goals and move up to the next level. It can be difficult developing new relationships in fear that the next person will let you down just as others have done in the past. I have been able to pick my own mentors and we have been able to learn from one another. I have also learned to try and figure things out on my own first and then if I am completely stumped or am lacking resources then I can reach out for help.
We might not always need assistance immediately in life, but knowing we have that stability of a support system always helps for peace of mind. I have also realized that I am too am a support to the people in my support system. I have learned to be optimistic and work through challenges by simply being positive and telling my friends “you can do this” or “you will get through this.” Sometimes that’s all people need to hear when they are feeling overwhelmed. It may take a long time to develop a support system, but developing one and knowing how important it is to have one is a start.
March 28, 13 ·
4 comments so far
Growing up for anyone is hard especially when you have to start from no month on earth to years on this earth. Everyone, even our environment, has to grow and in that growth there are transitions that will take place. Those transitions are pivotal moment that could determine a shift in our progress through the life we have. With those transitions there are stakeholder that have opportunities to make decisions that could hinder or excels success in overcoming adversity, such as transitions.
A quote by Isacc Asimov, “Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome,” gives insight to transition being difficult for life dwellers, those who walk this earth on their search to piece together their identities’ in meeting, Maslow’s hierarchy of Needs. Maslow put our need on a pyramid of many and 5 needs come to mind.
1) Physiological Needs, such as hunger and thirst.
2) Safety Needs, meaning security and protection.
3) Social Needs, such as a sense of belonging and being loved.
4) Esteem need, meaning your self-esteem and recognition status.
5) Self-Actualization, my favorite, to reach full potential.
In thinking about transitions, I look at my life and find there has been much transition that has influenced major shifts in my life. One story in particular is during the end of my freshman year in college at CSU Channel Islands. As I walked the campus, blessed with the support of staff members and faculty, blessed by the friendships that I gained and the friendships that I have maintained, blessed with health and being at a 4-year university, I was struck with a moment of realization on my transition and what potentially laid ahead. Tears fell down my eyes with a sense of urgency. I had to keep moving but the tears wouldn’t stop falling. For me at the moment I had transition into college coming from the foster care system, graduating high school, into a college, that I felt was above who I was. There was no one who was close enough to understand where I was coming from. But because so many people had, super, high expectations of me, I felt alone. Certain individuals say, take the word “can’t” out of your vocabulary and yet they are quick to say you came to far and can’t give up now, not understanding those words are walls that pauses time because my foresight of my future was unclear. I was in uncharted seas filled with privileged, ambitious, competitive peers who will go out into the same world as me.
The reason I tell part of that story was to illustrate that there are moments where transition is near and it’s scary. When transition closes in, our need of safety is influenced with doubt and many other negative thoughts, which could then affect our esteem need and our journey to self-actualization. What some people would call resilience I would call, high power/universe, grace with an action to move forward.
At the moment transition is something that affects everyone throughout day, weeks, and years. Self help or self influenced books are in demand for many topics that we look to over come and overcoming transition is something that is important to me because I am facing one and would like to tap into my own thoughts to how I am blessed to move forward.
To those who have viewed this Blog would like to elaborate on such a topic I would be more than happy to take and chat because I feel that those around me have giving me the opportunity to extract energy and strength to move forward so thank you for being you and having your story.
P.S. There is more where this has come from.
, California Coalition for Youth
February 27, 13 ·
2 comments so far
Well, this past Friday was my last day working at the California Coalition for Youth. The time really flew by! These last few weeks have been filled with a range of emotions and truthfully, I often struggled to come up with the right words to convey how I was feeling about it. Finally, though, I stumbled upon this quote:
All changes are more or less tinged with melancholy, for what we are leaving behind is part of ourselves.
I’ve not found any better way of shaping up how I feel about my departure than this. I started on the road as Executive Director over six and a half years ago, after three years of serving on the Board. For me, it was a time of major transition (a few weeks after starting, I also got married!) but I came into the position with enthusiasm, excitement and energy, but also (between you and me) a lot of nervousness! I was so happy just to get through the first six months (which included things like a fiscal audit, the conference, and much, much more), but after a while, things started settling in and we started making some progress.
Me with Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson at the green lighting of the State Capitol for California Runaway & Homeless Youth Month 2011.
There are major things CCY accomplished while I was here (policy briefs, expanding Crisi Line services, conferences, sponsoring bills, etc.), but to me, those are products of the work that the staff and the board did together. Some of the things I will remember most are far more personal: remodeling the office on the weekends with my husband, staff meetings and volunteer appreciation parties, lighting the State Capitol green, hanging out with (and learning from) the youth on my Board of Directors, and working with so many dedicated and amazing people.
While it’s true that I did often eat, sleep and breathe the work at CCY, to me, it just seemed normal. It’s what you do when you love your work and are passionate about the mission.
And while CCY will continue on it’s own journey…I have a new journey ahead of me.
Me with few youth members of the Board of Directors taking our responsibilities at the annual conference very seriously.
My husband and I (along with our dog and our cat) are moving to “bluer” pastures: Louisville, Kentucky (where I was born and raised). We are going back to be closer to family and to pursue new personal and professional adventures. (If you are at all interested in following along on our cross-country voyage and our quests beyond, please feel free to follow my blog here. It should prove to be interesting!)
In closing, my journey with CCY is one I will never, ever forget. There are so many lessons, friendships and memories I am taking with me, but I do feel like I’m leaving a part of me behind. It has been my privilege to serve California’s youth and the organizations who work so hard to support and nurture them, and I truly hope that our paths will cross again.
In fact, I’m almost certain they will!
, California Coalition for Youth
January 31, 13 ·
(In this blog, Jevon – one of the members of our Youth Advisory Board – shares his idea about a book he would one day like to write. The book’s title? Overcoming Foreign Hurt/Pain.)
The idea of this book is to help inspire and empower people to overcome the difficulties they encounter in today’s world. The book will touch on major concepts, especially in regards to the way we use language to express ourselves through my expresses with people.
The reason I use the phrase “foreign hurt/pain” within the title is to express the notion that everyone’s difficulties are unique. Every person’s difficulties are “unlike anyone else’s” – they are the only one going through that difficulty.
Given my background, of being a homeless, runaway, foster youth, I have been blessed with outstanding opportunities to serve, learn, and apply myself – my gifts, my talents, my life – back into the cycle of growth for people within many environments. This is merely another chance for me to express my self through words and gain out standing feedback as it comes. As you reply I thank you for the opportunity and any feedback.
, Youth Voices
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