“Never underestimate the difference YOU can make in the lives of others--”-Pablo

I know I talk a lot about the difference one person can make in a teen’s life, and it may sound kind of corny, but it’s true. One person can truly make a significant impact on another person’s life and to help persuade you I came prepared with quotes, an old folk tale, as well as facts and an example.

While working for City Year Washington, DC they told us some founding stories/principles that they hold to be true. One story that I think about a lot while writing blogs, as well as doing my everyday work, is the “Starfish Story.” Now if you don’t know the story I will tell it to you real quick to catch you up to speed.

Every year in a small beach town when the first tide of the summer comes in, thousands of starfish are washed up on the shore for miles and miles and often times they end up dying. One day an old wise man was walking along the beach when he saw what appeared to be someone dancing on the beach. Astounded by such a sight the man began to walk a little quicker. As he got closer he realized that it wasn’t a figure dancing, but rather it was a little girl throwing starfish into the ocean. The old man chuckled and asked the girl why she was throwing the starfish into the ocean. She said that every year thousands of starfish wash up on the beach and die so she was throwing them back in. The old man chuckled again and told the little girl that she couldn’t possibly make a difference. The little girl simply bent over, picked up another starfish and threw it back into the ocean. When it hit the water she looked at the old man and said “I made a difference to that one” and continued to toss them back in one by one. The old man amazed by this, bent over, picked up a starfish and threw it back into the ocean, and said, “I made a difference to that one.” As the day went on more and more people came to the beach and asked the little girl the same question; her reply was the same and they too began to throw starfish back into the ocean. By the end of the day over a thousand people had joined the little girl and the old man to toss the starfish back into the ocean saying, “I made a difference to that one.”

Even though you may not be able to help every single teen in foster care that’s waiting to be adopted, you can make a difference to at least one and maybe even inspire someone else who never thought about adopting a teenager until they saw you take an interest.

The IMPACT you can have on a teen is truly immeasurable. Trust me, not only do I speak from my own personal experience but also from being involved with DCFYI for over four years now. I have truly seen the IMPACT one person can make in a teen’s life. I wish I had the time and space to tell you about all of the great impact I’ve seen at DCFYI. One example that I can give is about one of the youth who is taking French is school. Now I don’t speak French, and I don't know too many people who do, but one of the mentors who does tutored the youth and seemed to make it simpler and easier to understand. I don’t know what grade that youth got in French class, but knowing the power of a great mentor and the impact that they can have, I’m pretty certain that they got a pretty good grade. And that’s just one example out of many. You really have to come to an event to see first-hand all the great things that are happening.

Need a little bit more persuading? Well here are some statistics: Research shows that youth who spend time with a caring adult mentor regularly for at least one year are:

  1. 46% less likely than their peers to start using illegal drugs
  2. 27% less likely to start drinking
  3. 52% less likely than their peers to skip a day of school
  4. 37% less likely to skip a class
  5. More trusting of their parents or guardians 
  6. Youth are five times more likely to graduate if they have a meaningful relationship with an adult.

I think that this post is full of many reasons to get involved and mentor a youth in foster care. If you want to make a splash in a foster youth’s life and start a ripple, please click on the “Get Involved” tab and get started today.


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