It’s hard to target just one moment for our YIT youth that a difference in their life is made. From the excitement of a successful mentor match and the smile on the youth’s face on the car ride home from the match, as they discuss what they’re excited most about. To the after-hour phone calls filled with tears and questions that they want to spill out to you, not because you have the answers, but because you’ll listen without judgment.
They aren’t just grateful when you pick them up for lunch, or when you drop off a Christmas present, GED prep book, or clothes for work. But also, when you tell them you’re proud of them; discuss coping skills; and surprisingly, even when you tell them they were wrong and that they could’ve done better.
A couple of bigger moments occurred recently, where I know an impact was made and the lives of our YIT youth were touched. The most recent was our December monthly event. After getting feedback from two mentors that we didn’t have enough “male-esque” events in the past, I reached out to several sports teams across Michigan to try to get tickets. The Detroit Lions Community Relations Specialist, Becca, responded very quickly to my request with several dates to choose from. We were gifted 40 tickets to the game, for free, to take our youth to see the Lions play— and they won!! We shared popcorn, some laughs, and some serious life conversations along the way. Throughout the night, and the next day, I received a number of text messages from the youth who attended, showing gratitude for the event, that they likely wouldn’t have been able to experience under any other circumstances.
The other recent example I want to discuss is more of a WE make a difference moment! And I want to start by saying thank you to everyone who assisted with this. As you recall, in November, one of our YIT youth’s home tragically burned down, and they lost everything. This was the same week that particular youth learned that mom’s rights were terminated, and the “temporary” situation, was no longer going to be temporary. In our staff meeting, I asked everyone permission to donate our Jean jar money to this youth and her aunt, and in addition to that money, we were also able to get them:
-numerous furniture items
-food and gift cards, including a thanksgiving dinner
-cleaning supplies
-paper products
-hygiene products
-dishware and cooking essentials
-clothes, shoes, towels
And so much more.
As a result of the fire, she moved to a new home in Flint. I took numerous trips down to Flint with carloads of donations, spent hours helping clean and organize, and took several Walmart trips to help the youth get her bedroom to feel a little more like home. And while I collected donations outside of work and did everything I could to help the family, I couldn’t have done all of it alone. So, thank you to everyone who donated items, food, etc., to her and her aunt. But also thank you to everyone who reached out with kind words, prayers, and concerns for the family. I shared those with the family too, and just the idea alone that so many people were there to care made an impact on the family too.
Josh Shipp, a foster care and Harvard alum, said, “every kid is one caring adult away from being a success story.” And the goal of our mentoring program is to give each of our youth that ONE caring adult, in addition to resources, supplies, and knowledge to aid in their success as they age out.
Our upcoming events scheduled through March include goal setting and vision boards at Grand Traverse Pie Company; a cooking class through Kamryn’s Creations; and a self-defense class at Midland Mixed Martial Arts Academy. If any of these kinds of events sound fun, or you want to be that one adult in a foster kid’s life, PLEASE reach out to me to discuss becoming a mentor!

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