Foster Community, Kindness in the New Year

| January 16, 2017

VIRGINIA WATAHOMIGIE

Executive Director, Coconino Coalition for Children and Youth

As 2016 came to a close, and 2017 rose fresh, there was considerable commentary about the difficulties of our prior year. However, we also noticed a trend towards individuals who desired to channel their energy into avenues that would assist others. We observed that people want to be connected and contributing.

The Coconino Coalition for Children & Youth would like to invite you to become involved with community issues both through the Coalition and through the numerous nonprofits in our area with whom we are proud partners.

When it comes to issues such as quality education for all, child homelessness, preventing child abuse and supporting foster youth, the needs can seem overwhelming. These are complex issues, and as such, feeling the magnitude of these situations is appropriate. There are currently more than 18,000 children in Arizona’s foster care system. However, when we bring it back into our local communities with neighbors, friends and family, action steps feel much more doable. Here are some ideas to get people involved:

  •  Be aware of your friends, neighbors and your children’s friends. Concerned community members are the ones who identify abuse and report it. However, they are also the strength and support that help pull struggling families through difficult times. Offering to babysit or providing a meal strengthens families in ways that you may never know. Child abuse often happens due to a stressor, and this is where kind community members make a huge difference.
  • Attend our board meetings and/or committee meetings to be further educated, involved and lend your voice. Our meetings are always open and there is no minimum requirement for involvement. You might even choose to become a member of the Coalition or receive updates through our newsletter to stay informed. We work to share events and updates from our partner agencies.
  • Reach out to local nonprofits that are doing work you believe in and ask how you can get involved. Volunteer directly with youth in ways such as becoming a mentor, Court Appointed Special Advocate or foster parent.
 There is no one way to become involved, but we are asking for our community to do so. Looking at the cyclical nature of our community: healthy individuals, raise healthy children, in healthy families and communities. The strength of all levels of our community from children through neighborhoods are connected and dependent on each other. We get there by working together to bring support and care to each other in ways that are appropriate for each of us.
 Due to this cyclical nature, people who were abused and abandoned may lack the support and knowledge when raising their own children. But remember, there is also a cyclical payback when your support and kindness help raise up an individual who one day has the tools needed to contribute not only to their own family, but also, the community as a whole.
CCC&Y is asking that we all look at each chance to smile, lend a hand, give support and know that the impact and difference go far past your own front door.

Coming together as a community is more than what we do for each other; it is how we are to each other. Let us remember that we never really know the story of what has happened to our neighbor. The more goodness we are contributing daily, the better for us all. Sometimes we find ourselves judging others, and while that is a human response, we do have to reflect that we are judging what we can never fully know or understand.

At the end of the day, this is a request to add more love and compassion into our communities while decreasing separateness. It is about remembering that together we will make this a great place for our children and families, and in doing so, create a thriving and vibrant system for us all.

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Category: Advocacy, Child Welfare

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