"Meeting the needs of youth, wherever they are"
A friend asked me the other day if I thought what we were doing with the youth at King Edwards’ Programs, was really making a difference? I had to stop for a moment to really think about the question. Those of us who work to provide quality care for youth, know so well that our efforts to deliver the best services possible to families, will invariably encounter challenges. Outside of attempting to maneuver and guide our children through their traumas resulting in a need to be in foster care, their completion of high school graduation, college entrance and employment, also comes struggles with assisting them in sustaining healthy relationships with friends and family.
King Edwards’ Independent Living and Young Parent Programs’ were established with the goal of supporting young people through these natural processes, and not unlike other well-meaning programs, is aimed to transition them from adolescents to young adulthood. As professionals, we often find our energies being expended on efforts that teach us that we all have our lessons to learn. Moving our youth towards being self-sufficient can be quite an ordeal. I frequently say, “I’ve never met an 18 year old who didn’t think they weren’t ready for independence.
Being young brings with it a feeling of being indispensable. A feeling that one can’t be touched by the things others find hard to endure. Because of the feeling of being untouchable, youth often believe that
things that happened to others won’t happen to them. This leaves them without the benefit of learning the lessons of others that have traveled the road before then. “I won't get pregnant… I won’t get shot… I won't
get put out of my apartment… I’m not going to let that happen to me… It may have happened to them but it won’t happen to me…” How often do we hear these words and pray that they are right.
As a parent of two adults and the grandparent of three, I frequently worry about my own children and if they have learned from those who have gone on before them. This is not unlike how I feel about the youth that we are charged to help lead out of the foster care system. Our children are indeed vulnerable, but are learning their lessons? They have a lot to contend with, but they are also handling their business. I’m so proud of the youth in King Edwards’ A Journey Home Program, and how they seem to be facing life’s obstacles. Our youth are making it in spite of the odds.
Our psycho-spiritual orientation to service delivery has also help keep things in perspective. I’m always encouraged by the words of the great Nelson Mandela who is frequently quoted by Marianne Williamson’s and in her book, Return to Love;
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves. Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
So after pondering the question that was posed in all sincerity, I answer with a resounding Yes! Yes we do made a difference at King Edwards Inc. Our children are powerful; they work hard and have survived much. Yes, we make a difference… we constantly remind them of who they really are. They are Kings and Queens who have forgotten their greatness. They are our future doctors, lawyers, teachers, preachers, mothers and fathers. Yes, we make a difference and we will never belittle what we do as unimportant or unnecessary. We love, care and shape the lives of youth, and we make a difference. We are healing lives and shaping the future. Oh Yes, We Do Make A Difference!
Delores Ford-Edwards, LCSW-C
President/CEO of King Edwards, Inc.