Passing The Baton

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Happy New Year!

Since 2002 I have partnered with a cohort of fabulous people to help inspire a Re-Envisioning of Foster Care in America. The Re-Envisioning Foster Care in America Initiative represents a vision: A nation where people of all ages invest their time, treasure and talent to support children and youth who have been removed from their homes and placed in our child welfare system; a country where communities collaborate with social service agencies and everyone prospers—solutions are created, innovations are born and both achieve much more than they ever could alone.

It has been a stellar decade. Collaborating with out-of-the-box thinkers, I have established three non-profit organizations: the Treehouse Foundation, Sibling Connections and Birdsong Farm. Each organization is designed to bring citizens together to stand under the banner of Shared Responsibility. Standing shoulder to shoulder we take the next steps forward to create vibrant public-private partnerships that harness creative ideas, mobilize collective energy, and maximize financial resources in order to better serve our youngsters experiencing foster care.

Together we are building a compelling new Menu of Engagement Options so Americans of all ages can become resources to our nation’s children who have been placed in foster care. This is critical because most Americans think there are only two ways to support our nation’s youngsters placed in foster care. Become a foster parent or adopt a child from our child welfare system. This is simply too much to ask of most people. The result: millions of Americans turn and walk away from the children in their communities who need them the most. An innovative Menu of Engagement Options gives folks a whole new set of opportunities; exciting and imaginative ways to help children from coast to coast.

All successful nonprofits begin with visionary leaders who provide the enthusiasm, focus, tenacity and support needed to transform inspiration into dynamic organizations. As nonprofits grow and mature, they need to develop a focused strategic approach to build fiscal capacity and organizational infrastructure. This growth process begins in the start up phase.

As we enter 2013, the Treehouse Foundation, Sibling Connections and Birdsong Farm are all in different phases of their growth and development cycles. Each one has it’s own governing board and it’s own staff. Each one requires something different from me. Recently, a remarkable philanthropist offered to take Birdsong Farm to the next level of it’s organizational development. Knowing what the start up phase requires of a founder, I have spent the past few months evaluating my role with the Treehouse Foundation and Sibling Connections to see which one was truly ready for me to pass the baton. After careful assessment, I have chosen to rotate off of the Sibling Connections board of directors. It is a good time for the next generation of board members, staff and volunteers to carry the organization forward to serve sisters and brothers who have been separated when placed in foster care.

As a former business owner and the parent of a teen, a twentysomething and a thirtysomething, I have learned the role that grace plays when transitioning into a new era in a long term relationship. I have also learned the value of being available in the wings should the need for my expertise arise. I will apply these important lessons to my transition from Sibling Connections. Meanwhile, I will be cheering Sibling Connections on from the sidelines as I continue to build the Treehouse Foundation and open the door to a new chapter in the Birdsong Farm story.

Each New Year brings opportunities our way. I give thanks for each one and for all of the people, experiences and lessons learned while helping to develop Sibling Connections. My family will continue to support this fine organization. They will show up for Season 9 of Camp To Belong MA to volunteer as a camp counselor, CTB MA photographer and a volunteer in the CTB MA Horse Program.

Many thanks to all of the wonderful volunteers who make Sibling Connections year round programming possible. You are the backbone of the organization and I am proud to have served alongside you. I know you, the staff and board will take the baton and run with it in to honor the lives of sisters and brothers who are separated when placed in foster care. Best of Luck!

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