By Devonne McLaughlin
You might not always realize how you’re impacting a child’s life for the better, but if I am any example, trust me. You are!
My name is Devonne and I am a beneficiary of quite a few of the supports Friends of Children offers young people who have been in the foster care system. And because of the help I’ve received, I feel like my life has changed dramatically.
My life had been an uphill battle. Before high school, I was in several foster homes. Then I was adopted and un-adopted. When I talk with staff at FOC, I wish I had a CASA (court appointed special advocate) back then. During high school, I bounced from home to home, went to four high schools, but still managed to graduate on time. Before starting college, I got to participate in Friends of Children’s Seeing Their Voices Project and learned not only how to take really AWESOME self portraits, but also that what I had to say about my own life mattered to others. And I was so proud when a judge bought one of my portraits and asked me to sign it!
When I was starting college, Friends of Children helped me get ready. Through Foster Dignity, I got everything I needed for my dorm. FOC helped me apply for a laptop from a foundation that helps kids who were in foster care. Once in college, I was mentored and given encouragement to succeed and believe in myself even when others had doubts. And when I learned I was pregnant, I knew that putting a group of folks around me to help would be important. People at Friends of Children never gave up me….and because of that, I never gave up either. Foster Dignity helped again when I needed a stable place to live with my daughter so I could complete college.
Last spring, I graduated college with my bachelors in social work and received an academic award. I am now working doing what I love. Not a bad start, is it?!!
The most important thing I’ve gained through my connection with Friends of Children is believing in myself and knowing that people love and care for me.
I know how to advocate for myself…and I know how to ask for help and support when I need it. I know I have the ability to give others the support they need to succeed. And best of all, I know I have the ability to be a good mother to my three year old daughter!
So if you aren’t sure if your advocacy, or if your support or mentoring is making a difference to kids like I was, think again.
Believe in us. Believe in yourselves! Don’t stop speaking up for kids. It really makes ALL the difference!
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