As a person who is purposefully childless, it never ceases to amaze me how much the teens in this program have affected me. Over the years, we have had many DCFYI teen participants in our house for small events, holiday meals, hosting or a needed place to stay. We have their pictures and pictures of their children on our refrigerator like I‘ve seen other people do with family members. I have shared experiences with DCFYI teens that we share with others as good times and fond memories, not unlike what you would hear at a family reunion.
After I graduated from college, I spent a lot of time looking for a job before I decided to apply to AmeriCorps. I've always been interested in working with my community and especially with children, so I was excited when I happened upon this position at DCFYI. While I had no experience with foster care and little knowledge of adoption, I was excited to have the chance to learn more about it. Serving as the outreach and communications VISTA with DCFYI for the last year has been not only rewarding and amazing but an enlightening experience.
Recently, Family & Youth Initiative has received many new teen referrals - teens who are lost in foster care without adult support, even one who is days away from aging out with no real plan in place. We are grateful that social workers (and others) are referring new teens because they see the impact we have on the lives of teens.
But the reality is that we need more mentors, host families and adoptive families to meet the needs of teens being referred.