Category Archives: Remembering

Thank You Dr. King!

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I was a 12 year old when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led the March on Washington and delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech.

On August 28, 1963, as I turned on our TV, approximately 250,000 people gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial and the Reflecting Pool in Washington, DC to hear Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak. The rest of us, numbering in the millions, listened on the radio and watched on television.

As a child I visited my grandmother and her husband in Oakland, California on Sundays after church. As an 8th grader, I was no stranger to outstanding preachers and beautiful gospel music. But Dr. King’s words, still so moving and relevant fifty years later, did something no other preacher had ever done before.. He not only spoke truth to power. He lifted us up – all races, genders and creeds – to the mountain top to see what we are collectively called to do in our life time. Dr. King gave the nation and it’s citizens a spiritual and moral Call to Action – one that continues to guide me to this very day.

Dr. King’s I Have A Dream speech is considered to be one of the great pieces of oratory of the 20th Century. Perhaps the greatest. I remember hearing it like it was yesterday. As Dr. King spoke, I was deeply moved by his intelligence, wisdom and courage, awed by the truth and beauty in his words, and transfixed by the speech’s powerful cadence.

He was an eloquent speaker, peaceful visionary, inspirational leader, gifted storyteller and passionate preacher/teacher all rolled into one. I appreciated the way he first he painted a realistic picture of the injustices black Americans faced and the role the government played in preventing all it’s citizens from attaining freedom and equality. He reminded us that equality, opportunity and freedom are American ideals, belonging to no singular demographic.

Then he moved on to help us visualize a better America. He did it simply but with such imagery, passion and skill. He shared his dream…

When he said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”, I could actually see it. When he went on to say, “So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York…” the picture was crystal clear. I was watching Dr. King on a black and white TV but the images he was painting with his heartfelt words came through in living color.

I am forever grateful to Dr. King. He was the greatest human rights activist of our time. His peaceful actions and powerful leadership inspired millions of us to dream.

My dream is to inspire a Re-Envisioning of Foster Care in America. As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom, I find myself wanting to write an awe inspiring speech that acts as a catalyst and rouses all Americans to actively support our nation’s half million children in foster care. So far, I only have a rough draft:

I have a dream. That all our children in America are…

* Cherished and honored from the moment they are born.
* Rooted in healthy families and caring communities that invest in their health and well-being.
* Given equal rights and equal protection under the law as well as equal consideration in our communities.

I have a dream … That all children placed in our public foster care system will one day reside in a nation where they are given every opportunity to live healthy and productive lives.

I have a dream … That all Americans will stand together under the Banner of Shared Responsibility to reduce the number of youth who are “aging out” of our public foster care system from 25,000 annually to zero.

I have a dream … That Americans of all ages and backgrounds will dismantle the foster care pipeline that leads to the next generation of poor and homeless Americans.

I have a dream … That the Re-Envisioning Foster Care in America Movement will become a stellar social justice collective, like the one that Dr. King created for the Civil Rights Movement.

Thank you Dr. King. Your vision will always guide me.

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It’s for sale…

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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!

Remembering…

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Fourteen years ago a little girl with dark brown eyes and long curly hair entered my life. She was absolutely adorable. Today I met a little girl who looks just like her..

I was standing in the kitchen washing the dishes when the dog started barking. Then I heard a soft knock on the front door. When I opened it there she was in the arms of my neighbor. Bright and beautiful. She too is one of six siblings placed in foster care.

It was such a gorgeous day that we all decided to go out in the backyard. After exploring the magical contents of our Play House we checked out the playground. She climbed up in the tire swing and took it for a spin. After an hour of enjoying each other’s company she changed into a lovely party dress and said, “Good bye!”

I walked back through my yard remembering…

Picnics
Dress up
Doll houses
Playgrounds
Trips to the beach
Saying goodnight to the horses
Dolls galore
Baths in the sink
Riding bikes
Watering flowers
Running through the sprinkler
Swimming for hours
The playroom
Trips to the zoo
Drumlin Farm
All those fun pink dresses

Then I got in the car and drove my youngest daughter to the barn so she could visit one of her favorite horses. Shortly after we arrived her sister drove in. She is the spitting image of the beautiful little girl who came to play in my backyard this morning. Beautiful brown eyes. Dark curly hair. All grown up.

As the girls put their horse back in the field, I leaned on the fence admiring the view: two sisters engaged in conversation. Fourteen years goes by so quickly. I can still see two little sisters climbing up their slide and learning how to swing. I remember their laughter, their curiosity, and how they enjoyed exploring the world.

I hope the beautiful little girl who visited me this morning comes back to play soon. I’m ready to welcome another little one into my life.