My amazing toy store in Brookline.
The delightful “classroom” where I spent almost twenty years, raising my two oldest children and serving children and families in the Greater Boston Area. The place where I learned so many important life lessons and where I had the opportunity to interact daily with a fabulous group of people.
I stopped by the store today after a meeting at Matt Murphy’s and found myself walking around the store remembering.. Customers, colleagues, beautiful playthings, colorful window displays. So many fond memories. As the gifts I purchased were being wrapped, the young woman at the cash register told me that the store was for sale. For one brief moment I wondered if I should buy it back …
On May 11, 1999, I was at No Kidding! when a lovely social worker called to ask if my husband and I would open our home to two little sisters who had been placed in foster care. Inspired by the girls, their siblings and their peers whose lives have been impacted by foster care, I chose to sell No Kidding! and work to inspire a Re-Envisioning of Foster Care in America. It is the best decision I have ever made.
My two previous careers in education and business provided me with the vision, tenacity and skill sets required to become a dedicated social entrepreneur and advocate for half million children and youth in our child welfare system.
In 2001 I began the journey. I was on a mission. First step: To create a compelling new Menu of Engagement Options for Americans of all ages – an array of exciting opportunities that would invite citizens from coast to coast to become everyday resources for our most vulnerable children who are stuck in the foster care pipeline, destined to become the next generation of poor and homeless Americans.
Since becoming a foster parent, I had learned that most Americans think there are only two ways they can support a child placed in foster care: Become a foster parent or adopt a child from our child welfare system. This is too much to ask of most people. The result: millions of Americans turn and walk away from the very children in their communities who need them the most. Most of us mistakenly believe that the American taxpayers’ role is simply to maintain our nation’s child welfare system. We forget that children placed in foster care need us to help them live engaged, healthy and productive lives.
Since 2001, I have been a student of Collaborative Social Change, Child Welfare, Social Work, Psychology, Public Policy & Non-Profit Management. I look forward to the next decade and the lessons it will bring.
I love being a social entrepreneur. Partnering with other dedicated visionaries makes my heart sing! I am deeply grateful to the scores of people who have made this collaborative process such a rich experience – my supportive family, trustworthy friends, and esteemed colleagues. I have a profound appreciation for generous philanthropy; how it helps create a culture of possibility.
The young woman in the toy store handed me the beautifully wrapped presents. I thanked her
and headed toward the door. Walking out onto Harvard Street, I wished the store well. As much as I loved No Kidding! it was part of my past, not my present or future. My job today: Continue inspiring a Re-Envisioning of Foster Care in America!